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Holiday Operations

December 21, 2020

To :The Caltech Community
From: David A. Tirrell, Provost 
           Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
Date: December 21, 2020
Re: Holiday Operations

Calendar year 2020 has required flexibility and creativity as we have navigated life and work during the pandemic. The disruption of normal activities, on campus and at home, has continued unabated for months on end. Rapidly increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases in our community and around the world underscore the need for us to remain vigilant.

We encourage everyone to take the Institute's special release days as an opportunity to rest and recover to the fullest extent possible. We urge all of you to stay home and limit nonessential activity as part of the broader community effort to curb the surge in infections. 

For those of you who report to campus for research or work responsibilities, please note that there will be a reduced level of services and operations. We also will pause the on-campus surveillance testing program for the remainder of December as we prepare to launch a new partnership with Swabseq on January 5, 2021. 

To ensure that you are aware of the level of services and operations to be provided during the special release days, please review the details below. Additional information about reporting responsibilities and pay is available through an FAQ on Caltech's special release days

COVID-19 Testing

  • The on-campus surveillance testing program will pause between December 21 and January 4. A revamped operation, using a saliva-based next-generation sequencing (NGS) test, will launch on January 5, 2021. All Caltech faculty, students, postdocs, and staff who report onsite in January will be required to participate in the surveillance testing program; affiliates and contractors who regularly access campus facilities will be encouraged to do so. More information about the new surveillance testing program is available on the Caltech Together COVID-19 Testing page.
  • Through the special release days, Student Wellness Services (SWS) will coordinate with campus security's special response officers, who will support COVID-19 testing for members of the Caltech community who are symptomatic or believe they have been exposed to COVID-19. This testing is independent of the surveillance program, and will take place at pre-arranged times, by appointment only. Individuals with symptoms should report them through the COVID-19 Reporting Application; a medical professional from SWS will follow up and provide information about available testing resources. Individuals with questions about these testing services may find more information on the Caltech Together website or may email [email protected].


  • Campus security and parking services will remain fully staffed and will maintain normal operations (24/7). All emergencies should be reported to security at (626) 395-5000. All other, non-emergency questions may be directed to staff at 626-395-4701.

Custodial Services

  • Custodial services and maintenance of indoor restrooms and occupied spaces, as well as exterior trash removal, will be provided on December 26, December 29, and January 1. Custodial services will support isolation and quarantine spaces per COVID-19 protocols.

Facilities Maintenance

  • The Facilities Service Center will close at 3:30 p.m. on December 23 and reopen January 4. An on-duty facilities operator will address urgent matters that require attention within 24 hours. Individuals with such concerns should call the service center at (626) 395-4717 and press 9 to be connected with the operator. For any building-related emergency, call campus security at (626) 395-5000. 
  • The Central Utilities Plant will be staffed to maintain utility services and to dispatch personnel for facilities maintenance emergencies only.
  • The Central Warehouse will close at 4 p.m. on December 23 and reopen January 4. Please arrange to have liquid nitrogen dewar orders placed by 3 p.m. on December 22 to ensure delivery on December 23. A mid-holiday delivery for laboratories that cannot stock sufficient supplies for the holidays will be scheduled on the morning of December 29. These requests should be scheduled through the AiM Customer Portal in access.caltech by 3 p.m. on December 23; please specify delivery for December 29.
  • All normal operations that involve shipping parcels, receiving parcels and freight, and intra-campus deliveries will be suspended during this period. Please arrange to have sufficient quantities of your laboratory gas cylinders ordered through Techmart, fulfilled, and delivered by December 23. Cylinder delivery will resume on January 4. 
  • For details on service levels and designated contacts, please see the facilities department's accounting of operations over the holiday period.

Mail Services

  • Regular campus mail deliveries and services will be suspended over the special release days. If mid-holiday service is required, please contact Mail Services at (626) 395-6371 no later than 3 p.m. on December 23 to make arrangements. 
  • The Caltech Post Office and FedEx services will operate with reduced hours and staffing. They will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on December 29, 30, and 31 only.


  • IMSS support services, beyond year-end activities and supporting testing response and management efforts, will be available on a limited basis.
  • The IMSS Help Desk will continue to serve and triage most support requests as needed, and may be contacted by phone at (626) 395-3500 or by email at [email protected]. In an emergency, individuals will be directed to use the on-call number, (626) 869-2685, or email [email protected].

Dining Services

  • The Red Door Cafe and Marketplace closed on December 20. Chandler Dining Hall will close on December 23 at 2:30 p.m. Both facilities will reopen on January 4.

Gym Facilities

  • Caltech's recreational facilities are open to eligible members by appointment on December 21 through December 23, and December 28 through December 30, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, the facilities will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Business Administration and Finance

  • Staffing and operations will be reduced to the greatest extent possible. Critical financial and accounting work will continue through on-call services. Departments and managers have received a separate memo with contact information for designees in purchasing, accounts payable, procurement, accounting and reporting payroll, research administration, export compliance, and other areas.