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Update on Caltech's Response to COVID-19

March 11, 2020

To: The Caltech Community
From: Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President and David A. Tirrell, Provost
Date: March 11, 2020
Re: Update on Caltech's Response to COVID-19

The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) expects to provide test results on Thursday for the one graduate student tested for COVID-19. While we wait for results, we would like to remind you that testing alone is not cause for alarm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recently broadened its criteria for testing COVID-19 and expects more individuals will be tested as an increased precaution.

In the eventuality of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our community, we will work with the local health department to communicate this to the campus as quickly as is possible, and to conduct a full investigation that includes contacting individuals who might have been exposed to COVID-19 in the course of their campus routines.

The campus's emergency response group, in concert with the infectious disease task group, has been working with public health officials to consider the best course of action given a lack of information about the test result. After consultation with local experts, we have been cleared to proceed with plans to end the instructional term at the end of today, Wednesday, March 11.

With this decision, undergraduate students will be asked to complete their final exams and assignments for the quarter remotely. Faculty will communicate by email to students regarding exams and any outstanding assignments, which will need to be submitted electronically.

At this time, on-campus instruction is scheduled to resume with the start of the spring quarter on March 30. Given the rapidly evolving situation, however, the task group and campus leaders are actively planning for all instruction to shift online. If such measures are to be implemented, we will notify the community with as much advance notice as possible.

Undergraduate students are strongly encouraged to consider taking this opportunity to return home for the duration of spring break.

Students who would like to remain in Caltech undergraduate housing during break must register with Student Housing and should be prepared for the eventuality that we may need to implement reduced or alternate dining service as we move forward. We also may need to shift room assignments if isolation measures are required.

During this academic break, the campus will remain open and active research projects will continue. Additional guidance on the preventative steps and measures that graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and staff remaining on campus can take will be forthcoming.

We advise that all individuals should stay informed on the developing COVID-19 situation and avoid any area where there is community spread of the disease, meaning that spread cannot be traced back to contact with a traveler from an affected country. As communicated previously, we continue to advise against international travel and prohibit travel to countries with a CDC Level 3 Travel Health Notice.

Public health officials have advised that students who are currently displaying flu-like symptoms or are otherwise reporting illnesses should remain on campus and not travel until they have recovered.

We appreciate your help and patience as we manage this evolving situation. We will monitor developments on campus, in the community, and across the world, and we will provide regular updates via email, Ion Caltech, and Caltech's COVID-19 information website.