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9/09/2022 - Fall Term Arrival

To:       Caltech Undergraduate Students and Families

From:   Kevin Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs

Lesley Nye, Interim Dean of Undergraduate Students

Date:   September 9, 2022

Re:       Fall Term Arrival

As the beginning of the academic year approaches, we look forward to the return of students to our living and learning community. We are particularly excited to welcome our new undergraduate students to campus. Our intent is to return as close as possible to familiar learning and social activities. With the current health and safety measures in place, we hope Fall term will proceed with less disruption than we have experienced through the pandemic to this point. 

We write to share our current plans and processes for undergraduate student return, and to provide important information around current campus health and safety protocols. Our plans represent a cautious start to the term, with an eye toward ensuring that the Institute can relax masking and associated social restrictions as early as possible in the Fall term. 

In a September 1 campus communication, Institute leadership outlined plans, should current downward trends in case activity continue, to make masking voluntary in most indoor settings effective Monday, October 3. This date marks the start of the second week of the academic term, as the campus population approaches a steady state. Until that date, we will restrict indoor gatherings and large social events that involve food and drink, as well as events where physical distancing is difficult to maintain.

Please read this message carefully, as all incoming students and their families will be expected to understand and comply with the policies and processes outlined here. 

On-Campus Arrival and Check-In Process

  • All newly arriving undergraduate students who reside in Caltech housing must plan to take a PCR test for COVID-19 (rapid antigen tests are not acceptable) within the 72 hours prior to their arrival on campus. PCR tests are generally available from primary care physicians, local community clinics, and pharmacy locations. Students must upload their negative test result to the Student Wellness Services (SWS) health portal prior to their arrival on campus. Instruction for submitting your PCR test result can be found here.  
  • Any undergraduate student who receives a positive PCR test result must delay their travel to campus, and should contact the undergraduate deans' office immediately to make arrangements for a late arrival. 
  • Undergraduate students who will be living in residence may have up to two family members or other individuals assist with their move-in process. Any family member or individual assisting student move-in must provide proof of vaccination (including booster) or a negative PCR test result (within 72 hours prior to the student's check-in date) in order to enter the residences. Masks will be required at all times during the move-in process, and those providing move-in assistance will be expected to limit their time in the residences to two hours.
  • After undergraduate student check-in is complete, non-resident guests will not be allowed in the undergraduate residences until further notice.
  • Additional information about the undergraduate move-in process can be found on the Caltech Housing website

Orientation and Initial Post-Orientation Activities

  • Orientation activities will be a mix of indoor and outdoor events, with some programs conducted remotely as needed.  Indoor activities will require participants to be fully masked, and participants will be encouraged to eat their meals outdoors.
  • Until at least October 3, most post-orientation social activities will be outdoors or conducted on a limited scale to ensure community safety leading into the start of Fall term instruction. 
  • The major post-orientation activity will be Techfest, Caltech's annual celebration of return to campus for graduate and undergraduate students. Techfest 2022 will take place on Friday, September 30, beginning at 5 p.m., and will be conducted out of doors, on the Beckman Mall. Events will include board dinner service and food trucks, fireworks, a film screening, and games and music. We look forward to this opportunity to safely celebrate the return of students to campus. 
  • The Vice President for Student Affairs and staff leadership are continuing to work with undergraduate student leadership to plan rotation activities that will meaningfully introduce our incoming first-year students to their residential options, while ensuring community safety and protecting the Institute's commitment to a robust return to in-person learning and research. Over the course of rotation, the balance of in-person, outdoor, and remote activities may be subject to change depending on campus case activity leading into the Fall term.

Testing, Reporting, and Isolation Procedures

  • All undergraduate students must participate in the campus surveillance testing program, which requires that they submit two samples per week, at least 48 hours apart. 
  • New students will automatically be enrolled in the testing program as part of their arrival and check-in process. They should drop off their first sample on the day of arrival, and a second sample 3-5 days later. 
  • Visit Caltech Together for more information about the On-Campus Surveillance Testing Program. Additional questions about the program can be directed to
  • Students who fail to comply with surveillance testing requirements may lose their residential privileges, have their access to campus restricted, or be placed on involuntary leave.
  • Any student experiencing symptoms of illness is expected to self-report through the COVID-19 Reporting application. They should wear a mask at all times (including in a private living space if they have a roommate or suitemates), and limit contact with others until they can be evaluated by Student Wellness Services.
  • Students with a laboratory-confirmed positive case of COVID-19 will be moved to dedicated on-campus isolation space or asked to isolate in place, depending on current campus protocols. Meals and wellness check-ins will be provided, and instructional faculty will be informed so they can provide appropriate academic accommodations. 
  • Students who are identified as a close contact of an infected individual are expected to comply with directions from Student Wellness Services, and with all current protocols regarding limits on their activities.

We thank new and returning students and their families for joining us in the effort to protect the health and wellbeing of all members of the Caltech community, and we look forward to a safe and rewarding beginning to the Fall term.