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Academic Year 2020-2021

Updated March 14, 2021

Academic Instruction

We are committed to ensuring that faculty and instructors continue to meet Caltech's high academic and educational standards independent of instructional format, and that students, wherever they are, will be able to succeed.

  • Undergraduate instruction for spring term will be fully online. All classes and exams will be delivered remotely. The term will start as scheduled on March 29 and will end on June 11.
  • To support online learning, Caltech has established learn.caltech.edu as a resource for students and teach.caltech.edu as a resource for faculty.
  • Undergraduate students are allowed to participate in on-campus research, provided that a set of conditions are met by the student and their faculty mentor.
  • Graduate students should continue to be enrolled fulltime with a combination of instruction and research courses as appropriate. Graduate students in PhD programs should continue to work with their research advisors to plan a course of study and research activities consistent with the Going to Campus guidelines.
  • Caltech has invested in new technologies and learning platforms, as well as in a staff-support structure and suite of online tools that enhance remote education. This has included providing targeted training opportunities for instructors and expanding a iPad and pencil-loaner program that has provided students with critical access to learning tools.

All activities for incoming and returning students will be conducted online.

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Research has resumed in many labs on campus. For individuals who work in a lab, Caltech has prepared the following resources:

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Campus Staff

For now and the foreseeable future, Caltech employees who can work remotely are asked to continue to do so. Employee support for telecommuting can be found at telecommute.caltech.edu.

Campus staff who have been asked to report to campus should refer to the Going to Campus page for a guide to help you through the process.

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Student Housing

In accordance with state and local orders, undergraduate student housing remains closed for winter. Exceptions may be granted in situations in which students may otherwise be housing insecure.

Graduate student housing will continue to operate in accordance with the Institute's policies and public health measures, including the Graduate Student Community Health and Hygiene Policy for the 2020-21 Academic Year.

While the current county health order restricts universities from populating on-campus residences through spring, we intend to reopen campus housing in June to a limited number of students participating in approved summer programs, and are planning for a full return of the residential living and learning experience in the fall if possible.

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Campus Facilities and Spaces

Access to campus research and administrative facilities is restricted to building personnel and essential staff only. Outdoor spaces, publicly accessible facilities, and dining areas across campus have been adapted to align with physical distancing measures and to safely manage for the flow of individuals. Changes that have been implemented include:

  • Building access is by keycard only, with access restricted to those whose presence is necessary.
  • Campus and building signage has been added to designate entry and exit points for buildings, and to remind community members and visitors to adhere to physical distancing measures and to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors.
  • There are enhanced cleaning and sanitation protocols across campus, especially for high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces.
  • Caltech dining facilities are operating at a reduced level, serving food and beverages in accordance with local health orders and requirements. Visit What's Open at Caltech? for up-to-date details.

Athletic facilities are also operating at a reduced level, based local health orders. For information on what is available right now, visit Caltech Athletics.

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Campus Activities and Gatherings

Caltech recognizes the value of student social activities and appreciates that these are an integral part of the college experience. That said, for winter term, in-person interactions are not allowable. As such, staff, faculty, and student leaders have redoubled efforts across the Institute to create community virtually and to foster a robust and engaging educational and social emotional experience for all students.

Under the current health orders and restrictions, student should plan for the following:

  • Caltech Athletics will not have a regular competition schedule. The Athletics Director and Institute leadership will continue to monitor and evaluate local and national approaches by the NCAA Division III schools and return to competition in a later term only when it is safe to do so.
  • Limited physical education course offerings will be available remotely.
  • Outdoor athletic facilities may be available by appointment for recreational use by students and other members of the Caltech community.
  • Performing and Visual Arts will continue to provide remote programming for students who are not on campus.

In response to Los Angeles County's move to the less-restrictive red tier in March, access to some recreational opportunities will be expanded for spring term:

  • Undergraduate musicians will be able to reserve for personal use one of seven practice rooms in the Music House
  • Students and eligible community members may participate in additional outdoor activities facilitated by Caltech Athletics, including spring-term training sessions for student athletes and group fitness sessions.
  • Later this spring, some graduate student recreation leagues will resume.

Updates on available athletic and recreational programs and the process for accessing these facilities and programs will be available on the Caltech Athletics and Recreation website.

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Health Insurance Updates

For faculty and staff:

Both the Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser HMO programs have stated that there will be no copay or deductible for individuals who require screening or testing for the COVID-19 virus. All other costs related to COVID-19 will be covered in accordance with the terms of the individual health plans. Information about the High Deductible PPO (HDHP) plans will be forthcoming.

For students:

Caltech's Student Health Insurance Plan covers care you may need beyond what our Student Health Center and the Counseling Center can provide. The plan is provided through UnitedHealthcare Student Resources (UHCSR) and includes a new Telehealth benefit that allows you to connect to a U.S. Board-certified doctor via your phone, tablet, or computer, usually within an hour. Additional details are on the Caltech Human Resources webpage.

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Flu Shots

Caltech is requiring that all members of the community receive a flu vaccine for the 2020-21 flu season prior to coming to campus. All faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and students who come to campus will be expected to receive and verify that they have been immunized, unless otherwise approved for an exception. Community members will be able to do this through the Caltech COVID Reporting application.

This requirement is an important proactive measure to mitigate the spread of infection among campus community members and to limit potential strain on health care facilities this coming fall and winter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people should be vaccinated against the flu to reduce the risk of flu illnesses, hospitalizations, and even the risk of flu-related deaths in at-risk populations.

Faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars are encouraged to obtain their free flu shots through their healthcare providers.

Undergraduate and graduate students are able to obtain a free flu vaccine through Student Wellness Services on an appointment basis.

Employees who would like to request exemptions or accommodations to the requirement for medical or religious reasons, should contact Human Resources Disability and Leave Administration Unit at leaveunit@caltech.edu.

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