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9/01/2022 - Updates to Campus Masking Requirements

To: The Caltech Community 

From: Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
David A. Tirrell, Provost
Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President

Date: September 1, 2022

Re: Updates to Campus Masking Requirements

A recent decline in COVID-19 cases at Caltech and across Los Angeles County has provided an opportunity for the Institute to reconsider campus masking requirements for indoor settings.

If the positive trends continue, we intend to make masking voluntary in indoor settings, with the exception of instructional spaces, effective Monday, October 3. The October 3 date marks the start of the second week of the academic term, with the campus population approaching a steady state. Given past experience, this should be a reasonable time to gauge whether relaxing the Institute's mask mandate is appropriate. Acting in early October ensures that the campus community benefits from the added layer of protection that masks provide as we return from summer and Labor Day holiday activities, as students move into campus residences, and as in-person instruction resumes in classrooms and laboratories.

When implemented, this policy adjustment will mean that masks will no longer be required in most indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status. However, high-quality masks (including surgical masks or N95, KN95, or KF94 respirators) will still be required in the following situations:

  • If you are a student in an instructional space, you must wear an N95 mask. Instructors may elect to remove their masks.
  • If you have been exposed to a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, you must wear a well-fitting surgical mask or respirator for 10 days after exposure in any indoor space on campus.
  • If you work in a setting that requires a high-quality mask for safety reasons, i.e. while dealing with hazardous materials.

If you are unsure whether you are required to wear a mask in a given situation, ask your supervisor or instructor, contact Human Resources, or email

Please note that the use of masks in indoor public settings or in high-risk environments (especially for those at elevated risk associated with infection) is still strongly recommended by health authorities as a measure to limit the spread of COVID-19. All members of the Caltech community who wish to continue to wear a mask are encouraged to do so, and the Institute will continue to make high-quality masks available through the Caltech Store.  Please be respectful of coworkers whose preferences regarding mask use differ from your own.

As in the past, changes in the public-health landscape will continue to inform future decisions on masking and other campus preventative measures. 

Thank you for your continued observance of COVID-19 safety precautions and support of the integrity of our residential research and learning community.