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7/31/2020 - Housing Letter to Graduate Students

Dear Graduate Residents,

We recognize that with the anticipated departure and arrival of residents from the Catalina Apartments in the coming weeks, many of you may have questions about the protocols and processes that will be in place to best support the health and wellbeing of our community members. We are writing today to provide some detailed information about our plans for this process, as well as our intentions for Catalina residents as we move into the fall. Please know that we are actively working to address concerns you or your peers may have and to provide clarity on these items and others as quickly as we can.

Throughout this time period we have and will continue to coordinate our actions with the Graduate Office, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and the Executive Director for Student Wellness Services (SWS), as we recognize that your questions around housing are related to other aspects of our program. To this end, we have also attempted to provide all of our residents with the greatest flexibility possible to respond to the pandemic. As an administrative unit, we also find ourselves in a situation of having to quickly respond to updated directives and guidelines from state, county, and city public health authorities and are doing so without much, if any, forewarning.

During this time, we have allowed residents to move out of Caltech Housing at their discretion with no penalties for early contract terminations. On March 20th, we also made a decision to waive all cancellation fees; this policy will remain in effect until further notice.

In regards to the management of housing assignments and overall demand for Caltech graduate housing, we have done our best to be responsive and supportive of the community overall. The demand for Caltech graduate housing this year has continued to outpace the current supply, a trend that has been evident for many years now, and the Institute maintains its commitment to provide housing for incoming graduate students.

As a result, Housing did have to implement its standard lottery process for Catalina residents this year. The lottery process was delayed in an effort to ensure that we had the most reliable information from the public health officials about requirements for the fall; we recognize, however, that this may have created an added challenge for some residents and apologize for any inconveniences.

For those students currently on the housing waiting list, we are committed to providing timely updates to you about available rooms as your peers change their plans for living in campus residences.

For our current Catalina residents whose contracts were scheduled to end as of July 31, we have extended their contracts to August 16 to allow for greater flexibility in managing housing transitions. In accordance with this, incoming graduate students have also been told that they cannot arrive on campus before September 1. This two-week gap between departure and arrival is necessary as Housing maintenance staff will use this time to inspect, make necessary repairs, and release the transitioning 200-plus units. All of this work, which is no small feat on its own, also must be managed in alignment with the required COVID-19 safety protocols.

Housing staff have been working diligently to plan and prepare for the arrival of new graduate students. We have pushed every deadline to the last possible date to give residents enough time to transition, while also providing the staff with enough time to complete the room assignments and introduce roommates to each other. We have also attempted to allow time for further refinements and for staggered departure and arrival times. To that effect, below is a detailed plan for how the Housing Office plans to manage the move-in and move-out process in the Catalinas over the next month. Please note that while these plans have been developed in close cooperation with SWS, they may change at any time due to state, county or city requirements. For reference, the Catalina apartment complex consists of 18 buildings with over 130,000 square feet of living space, spread over 3.6 acres.

  • Move outs: There are currently 30 residents who are scheduled to move out of the Catalinas and 19 residents who are moving internally between rooms. Their departure, room move dates and building locations are being reviewed, specific time windows assigned and staggered as appropriate to reduce foot traffic and overlap during the moving process. Students should complete the move themselves or with the assistance of household members; outside helpers will NOT be permitted to reduce overcrowding.
  • Assignments: Apartment assignments will only be completed when we have an accurate count of both the number of residents AND their arrival date. This will allow the Housing Office to distribute the residents across the various properties in a manner that is consistent with SWS and Pasadena Public Health policies.
  • Move ins:
    • Residents will be allowed to move into their spaces by APPOINTMENT ONLY. Appointments will be scheduled throughout the month of September to allow for staggered arrivals and to minimize any potential overcrowding.
    • All residents will be informed in advance of their assignment and their roommates.
    • Check-in will be done at three different locations in the Catalina complex (North, Central, South) to distribute the number of residents moving in.
    • Residents will receive a map and a key to their assigned space. Residential Associates will be on hand to guide them to their appropriate location.
    • Move ins will be permitted for residents only, NO HELPERS are allowed to minimize overcrowding and entry into shared units.
    • Staircases will be marked directionally (up/down) except for emergencies.
    • Currently, students arriving from abroad will have to quarantine for 14 days. Other incoming students can also choose to quarantine. Some students will be able to quarantine in their permanent assignment, while others will need to quarantine in a single room in the undergraduate South Houses. Students will receive additional information regarding quarantine shortly and the Housing Office will work with each resident to coordinate this process. Here is the link to the information: https://housing.caltech.edu/Resources/covid-19-self-quarantine-instructions-housing
  • Winter plans: The Housing Office will continue to monitor the campus and community environment, immigration rules, and travel situation, and will make adjustments as needed. Should the opportunity present itself for us to offer housing to additional students, we will make an announcement.

The Housing Office will continue to monitor the situation and work with all the relevant offices on and off campus. We look forward to supporting all of our residents, current and new, and to providing them with secure and enjoyable living conditions. Please do not hesitate to contact us at housing@caltech.edu, schedule an appointment with the Graduate Housing Manager or your Residential Life Coordinator. (Please note that since we are working from home, email is the preferred method of communication.)