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Winter-Term Instruction and COVID Testing
December 22, 2021

To: The Caltech Community 
From: David A. Tirrell, Provost; Kevin M. Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs
Date: December 22, 2021

With the recent spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 and warnings from public health officials about a winter wave of COVID cases, the Institute will start the winter term with one week of remote instruction. From January 3 through January 7, all courses will be offered via Zoom.

Deferring our return to in-person instruction will provide Student Wellness Services the opportunity to conduct three rounds of surveillance testing for all undergraduate students and graduate students in residence or registered for winter-term courses, following on the winter recess and holiday travel. This plan for instruction, along with the Institute's arrival testing protocols, which require students to provide a negative test result obtained within 72 hours prior to arrival to campus, will support the Institute's continued efforts to reduce the spread of infection within the campus community.

Students are still encouraged to return to campus in advance of the start of term, but no earlier than December 31. The surveillance testing program will resume operation on January 3.  All students registered for winter-term courses or living in Caltech housing must submit a first sample for surveillance testing by January 4, a second by January 6, and a third by January 8.  Samples should be submitted 48 hours apart. Students who do not meet this requirement will be considered in violation of the 2021-22 Student Health and Hygiene Policy and will face the most significant sanctions set forth in the policy – including loss of housing privileges and potentially involuntary leave and separation from the Institute.   

Provided that COVID infection rates on campus and in the broader community do not require continued remote learning or other restrictive measures, in-person classroom instruction will resume on January 10. We continue to monitor developments in public health conditions and to communicate frequently with city and county health officials as we work to sustain the Institute's research and education mission. Updates will be provided by email and through the Caltech Together website.

Information about online instruction can be found at learn.caltech.edu for students, and at teach.caltech.edu for instructors. Students with questions should contact their advisors or the appropriate dean's office. Instructors with questions should contact their Division Operations Officers.

Thank you for your ongoing cooperation, understanding, and support.