Caltech Announces Plans to Gradually Allow More People Return to Campus

California Institute of Technology

California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has announced its plans to allow the return of more individuals on campus, one year after it stopped most of its on-campus activities.

According to a press release issued by Caltech, the return of more people will be possible thanks to vaccination and a better public health situation within the community, Erudera.com reports.

During a Zoom town hall meeting held on March 24, the Caltech president Thomas F. Rosenbaum together with a group of senior leaders discussed how Caltech responded to COVID-19 and came up with a plan on a safe return to campus.

“I look forward to seeing all of you back on campus. It will be a progression, but it will be a welcome change. I want to thank everyone for all they’ve done to let Caltech thrive, even in the most difficult circumstances you can imagine,” said Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics.

The Vice President for Student Affairs, Kevin Gilmartin, stated that Caltech had planned on returning undergraduates to campus while preparing for each new term, but due to guidelines in Los Angeles County, its implementation failed to happen.

The fall return to campus is expected to begin with a limited reopening during spring and summer.

“With the start of the spring term, undergraduate students living in the Pasadena area will be able to reserve indoor music practice rooms, spring student-athletes may resume some outdoor training activities, and research labs will soon expand their allowed capacity” Caltech’s release reads.

It further states that Caltech is preparing to provide scaled-down in-person versions of long-standing residential research programs, including the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) and WAVE Fellows programs.

According to Gilmartin, the 2021 commencement ceremony will be a virtual event, a decision taken as the institute could not allow the return of all students and faculty in June, yet Caltech is planning to organize a fall 2021 in-person celebration in order to honor students who completed studies during 2020 as well as the those who graduate this year.

“While the timing and details are still in the works, the event will be open to friends and family, and we’ll include the traditional hooding ceremony for our Ph.D. degree recipients and an opportunity for all students to walk across the stage and be recognized in the presence of the gathered Caltech community,” he said.

In addition to the abovementioned plans, Caltech is also planning to allow more on-campus research activities soon, as the City of Pasadena has permitted the latter to expand its research labs and facilities from 25 percent to 50 percent capacity; therefore, more staff members should return to campus during the coming months.

1,100 people have been vaccinated at Caltech during an on-campus clinic offered in partnership with Vons Pharmacy on March 19.

Provost David Tirrell said that although COVID-19 vaccination is not a requirement in order to be permitted to return to campus, it could change once all populations get the vaccine.

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