4/21/2022 - New Rules Regarding Indoor Masking and Social Activities
To: Caltech Undergraduate Students
From: Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
While we have all shared in the benefits of relaxed health and safety restrictions in recent weeks, and the renewed social activity that has followed, the campus has seen a worrisome rise in case activity this week, particularly among residential students. In the last two weeks, 62 cases have been reported among students and employees, with as many as 42 students living in campus residences having reported a new infection through either symptomatic testing or the twice-weekly surveillance testing program.
With this in mind, and with an eye towards protecting in-person learning and research, the Institute is reinstating an indoor masking requirement and temporarily postponing large social gatherings until it is clear that we have made it through the current surge in case activity. Communication to the entire campus community is going out in conjunction with this letter.
As part of this campus-wide return to a more cautious posture, the three house parties that had been planned for this weekend will be postponed. As has been the case throughout the party planning process, Student Affairs staff and leadership will work with student leaders to implement these changes and plan future activities, provided a drop in case activity allows for a loosening of restrictions.
I understand that this is disappointing news to those who looked forward to a weekend of socializing and the continued return to house traditions. Administrative leadership took this into consideration in assessing the situation, but as the week unfolded it became clear that the rise in case activity needed to be met with protocols designed to significantly diminish transmission, particularly in our residential communities.
Our ability to manage the current rise in cases, so we can return again to a more relaxed posture will depend on student compliance with surveillance testing and other protocols. In particular, all students must:
- wear a mask at all indoor settings, except in private residential spaces.
- maintain social distance indoors, and at outdoor gatherings when masks are not worn
- promptly report any symptoms through the COVID-19 reporting app.
- submit samples to the surveillance testing program twice a week, at least 48 hours apart.
- remain alert for follow-up communication associated with the surveillance program, and be responsive to outreach from Student Wellness Services about confirmatory testing and isolation protocols.
- abide by the masking requirements associated with testing out of isolation—individuals who are released from isolation must continue to wear masks when around others, indoors and out, for a full 10 days.
With your continued support, I hope we can close a very challenging year in a positive way, with a return to the less restrictive posture that will allow for renewed social activity and party planning.