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Holiday Travel
November 18, 2021

To: The Caltech Community
From: Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
David A. Tirrell, Provost
Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President
Date: November 18, 2021
Re: Holiday Travel


With the holiday season approaching, we write to provide guidance on holiday travel and the Institute's preventative measures and policies in the months to come. We ask that everyone who travels or gathers with friends and family does so in a responsible manner so that we may continue to keep our community as safe as possible.

For both Thanksgiving break (observed November 25-26, 2021) and winter break (observed from December 23, 2021 to January 3, 2022), members of the community are asked to closely adhere to travel guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): limit nonessential travel if unvaccinated; avoid crowded, poorly ventilated spaces to the greatest extent possible; and survey the COVID-19 environment and associated public health requirements at your travel destination.

Following winter break, we will require re-entry testing for all enrolled undergraduates as well as all graduate students in Caltech housing as a condition of return to campus. While re-entry testing is not required following the Thanksgiving break, all members of the community who are required to participate in the campus surveillance program should resume testing immediately upon their return. Other fully vaccinated members of the community are encouraged to participate in the testing program, especially if they have traveled outside the Southern California region.

By approaching the holidays in a cautious and measured manner, we can mitigate the risk of infection within our community and position the Institute to reassess and potentially relax campus restrictions and requirements in the new year.

The following detailed information on Caltech's approach to the upcoming holiday breaks is provided to help in planning your activities and return to campus:

Thanksgiving

While administrative offices and non-critical functions will close or greatly reduce their operations during this period, student residences will remain open. The Institute will provide food and supplies for family-style holiday meals for undergraduate students in residence.

For those members of the community—employees and students alike—who travel outside the Southern California area, the Institute asks that you follow travel guidance for domestic or international travelers.

Upon return to campus, all undergraduate students, all graduate students in Caltech housing, and students and employees with an approved exemption from vaccination are expected within 48 hours of their return to resume participation in the Institute's twice-weekly surveillance program. While surveillance testing is not mandatory for other fully vaccinated members of the community, we encourage anyone who has traveled outside Southern California to participate in the program so that infections can be identified and managed.

Winter Break

The Institute will observe a winter break between the fall and winter terms, from December 23, 2021 to January 3, 2022. All campus-based offices and services, except those serving critical functions, will close during this period. Student residences will remain open to support student athletes and a limited number of student residents who are not able to make alternative housing arrangements.

As with the Thanksgiving break, the Institute asks that all members of the community observe CDC travel guidance for domestic or international travelers.

Given the extended period for which many members of the community will be away from campus, the Institute will approach the winter term return to Caltech in January 2022 in a manner that is consistent with the fall term return to campus. This means that upon return to Caltech:

  • All undergraduate students, as well as all graduate students in Caltech housing, will be asked to present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to the start of term on January 3 or of an individual's return to campus, whichever is earlier. Documentation of a negative COVID-19 viral test is a required condition of return. Communications with specific directions for students on this requirement will follow in the coming weeks.
  • All undergraduate students, graduate students in residence, and individuals with an approved exemption are expected within 48 hours of their return to resume participation in the Institute's twice-weekly surveillance program. While this participation is not mandatory for other fully vaccinated members of the community, we encourage anyone coming to campus who has traveled outside the area to participate in the program so that we can promptly identify infections within the community and prevent spread.

Continuing Preventative Measures and Updates

As a reminder, everyone on campus, including those who are fully vaccinated, is required to wear a mask indoors. Individuals are only allowed to congregate in groups of up to 50 without explicit approval. In addition, all active employees and students must document their full vaccination status or have an approved exemption. If you are ill, have had a positive test for COVID-19, or have been exposed to anyone with a positive test for COVID-19, do not come to campus and immediately notify Student Wellness Services.

In anticipation of the potential for an increase in COVID-19 cases during the winter months, Caltech's current health measures and protocols will remain in place through the end of the calendar year and into 2022. These measures will be critical as the campus community settles into the new year and we assess the effect of winter conditions and more frequent and widespread travel on case activity. Once we have gained a clear sense of case activity on campus and in the broader community through the first few weeks of January, we will update campus health measures and protocols accordingly.

Thank you for your ongoing help and support.