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Going to Campus

A Guide for the Caltech Community

Updated September 17, 2021

In consultation and accordance with local public health authorities, Caltech is resuming on-campus research, instruction, administrative operations, and student housing and campus life activities.

The Institute has repopulated the campus throughout the summer, welcoming close to 200 undergraduates to live in residence and expanding access to administrative offices and research spaces, with the intent of transitioning all campus units to in-person operation by September 7, 2021. This expansion of in-person activities and operations, which are subject to public health conditions at the time, will support a full resumption of the residential living and learning experience for the 2021-22 Academic Year.

In support of these steps, Caltech has implemented a full vaccination requirement for all students, faculty, staff, and postdoctoral researchers on campus and at off-site facilities apart from JPL. These individuals must confirm their full vaccination status, or have an approved exemption, no later than October 15, 2021.

In addition, as of Monday, October 18, the Institute will limit access to all indoor campus spaces to individuals with proof of full vaccination or an approved exemption. This means that all individuals, including visitors, who are eligible to receive the vaccine (i.e., everyone 12 years old or older and those without an approved exemption) must be prepared to show proof of vaccination when entering any indoor campus space. This requirement will be in effect at indoor athletic facilities; dining facilities; undergraduate and graduate student housing; research, academic, and administrative spaces; as well as auditoriums and lecture halls used for public events and engagements. Proof of vaccination requirements may vary by facility, but expectations will be shared in advance and available at entrances. Acceptable forms of proof may include the QR code generated through the Institute's Vaccination Documentation system, and a paper or digital copy of an individual's physical vaccination card. Visitors to campus who are not vaccinated, but have a recognized exemption, may be asked to show proof of documenting their exempt status.

While On Campus

Caltech has implemented a number of preventative health measures to safeguard those working on campus. These include protocols requiring all individuals who have not documented their full vaccination status with Caltech to participate in regular surveillance testing; the use of a mask in all indoor spaces, regardless of an individual's vaccination status; and a requirement that individuals screen themselves for any potential signs of illness before coming on-site and refrain from coming to campus if they are sick or might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

There have also been a number of updates and enhancements to campus operations, including continued maintenance and assessments of air-handling systems, the installation of hand sanitizer stations, and enhanced cleaning and sanitizing practices. Additional measures implemented in accordance with the city and country requirements for operation are listed in the campus reopening protocol.

While on campus, individuals are expected to adhere to the following guidelines:


  • Indoors
    • Masks are required of all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, when accessing indoor spaces. The only exceptions are when individuals are seated and eating, or when they are alone in a private space. Through the Caltech Store, the Institute is making N95 masks available to employees and students.
  • Outdoors
    • Everyone on campus, regardless of vaccination status, is allowed to remove their mask when outdoors.

Health Attestation and Vaccination Verification

  • Health Attestation
    • All members of the community are required to check for symptoms of illness before reporting on-site.
    • If an employee or student experiences symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19, they must record their illness through the COVID-19 Reporting Application so that a member of Caltech's Student Wellness Services team may follow up as appropriate.
    • Individuals who are ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 are not to come to campus or report for on-site work.
  • Verifying Vaccination Status
    • Individuals are recognized by the Institute as being fully vaccinated only after they have submitted documentation of their vaccination through the COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation application and have received a scannable QR code to confirm their status.
    • In accordance with local, state, and federal health authorities' guidance, the Institute will accept immunization records for all vaccines authorized by the Food and Drug Administration—currently, Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—as well as those authorized for use by the World Health Organization. Students with questions on their specific circumstance may send a secure message to Student Wellness Services through the Student Health Portal; employees should consult with Human Resources' Employee and Organizational Development unit.

Building Occupancy and Ventilation

  • All campus buildings may be fully occupied in accordance with local building and fire codes.
  • Beginning October 18, all research and administrative buildings will be accessible via key card access only. Key cards will be depended on documented vaccination status.
  • Caltech's facilities group continues to assess and address indoor ventilation and air circulation in campus spaces to ensure compliance with the Core Recommendations for Reducing Airborne Infectious Aerosol Exposure issued by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Individuals with questions about their spaces should address their concerns with their division and department leadership who are consulting with Facilities. Division and department leaders may request Facilities to conduct an air-handling system assessment.

Campus Access

  • Managers and supervisors are working with their administrative and divisional leadership to determine appropriate working arrangements for positions and roles within their area, keeping in mind that, as a residential research and learning community, Caltech relies upon in-person interactions for optimal operations. These arrangements may include a full return to on-site operations for some, while allowing for additional flexibility and a mix of on-site and remote work for others.
  • All individuals accessing campus should be mindful of the campus parking regulations, which remain in effect throughout campus. Information on purchasing a parking permit and rules for parking in on-campus facilities are available on the Parking and Commuter Services site.

Instructions for outside vendors visiting campus can be found in the COVID-19 Caltech Requirements for Suppliers Coming on to Campus, which must be signed and returned to your Caltech project manager.