Home  /  Updates  /  Updates for Faculty, Postdocs, and Staff  /  3/14/2020 - Update for Postdoctoral Scholars

3/14/2020 - Update for Postdoctoral Scholars

To: Caltech Postdoctoral Scholars
From: Kaushik Bhattacharya, Vice Provost

Regarding the rapidly evolving coronavirus situation, I wanted to provide you with guidance of particular relevance to the postdoctoral scholar community.

Human Resources Policies

Caltech's Human Resources (HR) team has drafted a Temporary Personnel Memorandumoutlining measures that faculty, postdocs, and staff can take to help reduce the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19, on campus.

The measures outlined in the memorandum include the following:

  • Any employee who is sick with any infectious disease must stay home from work.
    • Absences for employees not reporting to work pursuant to this policy are considered to be excused absences.
    • Employees will be required to use available sick accrual for the duration of their absence.
    • Until further notice, medical certifications for infectious diseases associated with the COVID-19 epidemic will not be required for employee absences exceeding 10 days.
  • Many large school districts have recently announced that they are closing temporarily. Employees who have childcare issues resulting from COVID-19 should contact their manager about working remotely, if possible, for the time being. HR's guidelines on telecommuting can be found on Caltech's COVID-19 information webpage.


During this academic break, the campus will remain open and active research projects will continue. Caltech's custodial teams have introduced enhanced cleaning measures on campus, including lab spaces. Additional guidance on the preventative steps and measures that you and your colleagues can take to sanitize your lab space is available on Caltech's COVID-19 information webpage.

As much as possible, we advise you to work with your lab manager to replace in-person lab meetings with remote teleconferencing or video conferencing options. Any work that can be done remotely during this time should be, as we all work to support social distancing as a means for mitigating the spread of disease.


Right now, based on the U.S. Department of State's guidance, we strongly advise against international travel for all postdoctoral scholars, regardless of citizenship. We understand that many of our postdoctoral scholars have family abroad, but if foreign nationals or U.S. citizens/permanent residents leave the United States, they will be subject to reentry restrictionsand self-isolation guidelines, respectively. These air travel or governmental restrictions can change and are beyond Caltech's ability to control.

International Scholar Services will continue to provide immigration support for international scholars and can be reached by email iss@caltech.edu.

We also continue to advise limiting non-essential domestic travel. If you must travel, we ask you to avoid any area where there is community spread of the disease, meaning that spread cannot be traced back to contact with a traveler from an affected country.

Preventative Care and Planning

There are several simple and effective steps you can take to make sure that you are prepared for any infectious disease, including COVID-19:

If you are taking a medication, make sure that you have an adequate (30-day) supply.
Make sure you have stocked up on food and other essential items for at least a 14-day period.
Practice good hygiene at all times: cover your cough, wash your hands with soap and water, and avoid touching your face.

Be mindful of your proximity to people you don't know when in public. Consider replacing handshakes with a wave and a smile.

Finally, misinformation about COVID-19 is rampant, and can create confusion and panic. Rely on official communications from the CDC, PPHD, and the Caltech COVID-19 information webpage.

If You Become Ill

If you are ill with a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other flu-like symptoms (such as sore throat, body aches, congestion), stay home. If you exhibit these symptoms, call your health care provider and do not go into their office unless you are directed to do so. It is important to limit your contact with others if you are ill. Your healthcare provider will inquire about your symptoms and risk factors, and give you further instructions regarding self-isolation. At this time, testing for COVID-19 is taking place at the direction of the Pasadena Public Health Department until commercial testing is available.

Mental Health Resources

Postdocs who experience increased anxiety or stress related to the virus, concerns about family in the United States or abroad, or your personal health may utilize the Staff and Faculty Consultation Center. Please call (626) 395-8360 to arrange an appointment.

For more information on COVID-19 and ongoing updates on the Institute's response, please visit /coronavirus. Information specific to postdocs can be found at /coronavirus/faculty-postdocs-and-staff.