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Spring Term Instruction

March 20, 2020

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President and David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: March 20, 2020
Re: Spring Term Instruction

With appreciation for your commitment to supporting Caltech's response to COVID-19, we write to provide information and guidance regarding online instruction during the spring term. Our comments are directed specifically to those of you – faculty members, teaching assistants, and educational support staff – who will be engaged in teaching in the spring, but we would like everyone in the Caltech community to be aware of our plans.

Some of you have asked whether yesterday's "stay at home" orders preclude the use of on-campus facilities for remote instruction. They do not. For example, the state order cites a document issued by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency: This document identifies education as an essential activity and allows us to continue to operate according to our current practices, which keep occupancy of our campus spaces to a minimum. We encourage you to base your teaching activities in a location that provides high-quality internet access. For many of you, this will be an on-campus location with wired access.

The formal start of spring term remains March 30, 2020. We ask, however, that you defer the start of required class meetings and assignments until Monday, April 6, and that you use the week of March 30 to prepare and test online elements of your course, to communicate with your students regarding your expectations and course procedures (and their circumstances and concerns), and to place essential information (e.g., your syllabus and links to other resources) on Moodle. The campus will use Moodle as a central hub for students, so every course should have a presence there, even if you use another site for your primary course materials.

The Dean's Office, Student Wellness Services, the Caltech Center for Diversity, the Hixon Writing Center, IMSS, and other campus units will be available to support students during the week of March 30, so that they experience a successful transition to online learning. For those who are teaching spring courses, the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Outreach will be sharing updates with you directly over the coming weeks as new resources become available, to make sure that you have access to the latest information and recommendations. These updates will also be online at, highlighted on the front page, where you can already find a robust collection of resources for planning spring classes.

Please remember that students will have the option to take any course on a pass/fail basis during the spring term. Registration information will be sent to students and faculty next week by the Registrar's Office.

We understand that our transition to online instruction will create new challenges and new demands on your time. We thank you for your dedication to the Institute and its students, and we are confident that your efforts will help ensure a successful spring term.