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Impact of COVID-19 on Campus Operations

October 13, 2020

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President and David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: October 13, 2020
Re: Impact of COVID-19 on Campus Operations

The Caltech community has pulled together to address the many challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic. We shuttered facilities and temporarily paused research activities, reimagined instructional offerings for a virtual environment, halted nonessential travel, implemented salary freezes, and reconfigured work spaces and laboratories to support on-campus and remote operations in a manner that emphasized individual health and safety.

All of us have hoped that by now we would be returning to more normal operations. However, with the fall term now underway, it is evident that curbing the spread of COVID-19 will require continued effort and vigilance, and that pandemic-forced reductions in Caltech operations and services will continue into 2021.

With this new reality, and the county's August order that prohibits in-person instruction and undergraduate students in on-campus residences, we must adapt our operations to meet the current environment. Since March, we have been able to protect jobs and pay our employees their salaries and benefits even if they have not been able to perform their duties. The painful truth is that we cannot continue this practice indefinitely. For this reason, we are asking managers and supervisors across the Institute to assess their operations and programming needs and to realign their workforce to meet current and expected operations in this pandemic environment. 

The process regrettably will result in workforce reductions. We will pay those affected through the holidays and into early January, with health benefits extended beyond that time. We are also asking managers and supervisors to explore employment options within Caltech and elsewhere to ensure that current employees whose work duties are reduced by the pandemic are able, if they can and would like, to fill new operational needs. We hope to have more clarity on the situation by the end of the month, and we will continue to actively communicate with managers and affected individuals.

We know this is difficult information. Supporting our employees has been integral to the decisions we have made throughout this pandemic. It is because of our deep respect for all of your contributions to the Institute that we are providing early notice of the changes we are forced to confront.