Reopening Plan and Steps Toward Returning to Campus - Spring, Summer, Fall 2021

This message was sent from CalArts President Ravi Rajan to the CalArts community about the campus reopening plan and steps toward returning to campus - Spring, Summer, Fall

Dear CalArtians,

This year, once again, we must virtually celebrate many important milestones. Like you, I miss the in-person excitement that bubbles over in the halls and studios, the tangible energy of year-end productions and exhibitions, and the surge of young artists visiting our campus on admitted student days. It is a time when we come together to celebrate our community and each other. After a long year of physical isolation, I am excited that we will soon start having opportunities to reconnect with each other in-person. I hope you are beginning to feel that excitement, too.

As we look forward to that time, teams of CalArtians are readying the campus and making plans to gradually bring us back as allowed in a safe manner. I am optimistic because Los Angeles County is finally signaling that it recognizes the importance of higher education, because vaccines have become even more widely available, and because we understand far better than we did a year ago how to adjust our lives to stay safe and healthy. Today I am even more confident than I was last month that CalArts will be primarily conducting in-person classes with some hybrid and remote options, and our students will be back in our residence halls and dining facilities.  

I understand the depths of disruption and difficulty the pandemic wrought on all our lives and I recognize how stressful the past year has been for CalArtians and those we care about. As we begin our return to campus, we will support our community to ensure returning to campus can happen as smoothly and safely as possible.  

On-Campus Work: Spring 2021 and Into the Summer

To support instruction and activities beginning this spring, we have developed a new guide for faculty and staff to navigate the phased return to on-campus work. I encourage you to review the Spring Reopening Guide for Employees and FAQ on the CalArts Returns website. A special workshop for supervisors is planned for Friday, April 16 at 10 am to help with questions and processes. An invitation from the Covid Response and Implementation Team is also forthcoming. This Friday, April 9, a portion of the Staff Council’s meeting will focus on returning to work questions and concerns and all staff members are invited to attend. I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities.

Students may utilize limited campus spaces by appointment and must follow all campus safety protocols. To request an appointment, visit the CalArts Returns webpage for school contact information.

On Monday, April 12, Accounting, Tatum Lounge and the CalArts Store will reopen to support those returning to campus, as well as those who have continued to work on campus throughout the last year.

Summer Educational Opportunities 

Yesterday students received an email from Provost Tracie Costantino sharing information about summer classes. I am pleased that both CARES funding and our own financial commitment have helped offset the tuition for these classes for students interested in or in need of additional units. As she noted, all classes will be taught remotely. 

Returning to Campus for Fall Semester

We will continue the phased return of faculty and staff as we prepare for the 2021-2022 academic year. The county has still not published guidelines for the fall, and has revised their timeframe for this into June. As soon as we can, we will take this guidance and publish our own Fall Reopening Guide for Employees in June that will address how we will tackle moving further into on-campus work, with the goal that most of us will be back on campus for the fall semester. 

As I announced on March 9, we are planning for education at CalArts to take place primarily in person for Fall semester 2021. To navigate some of the limits on classroom density that might persist, we are preparing some outdoor spaces for instruction and other uses. Deans, program directors, and faculty are working with the Provost’s office to determine if some classes should continue with some hybrid remote instruction, and they are determining student needs relevant to course offerings and program requirements using the lens of our mission: enabling an educational experience that is grounded in openness, experimentation, critical engagement, and creative freedom. 

CalArts international students are very important to our community. While some remained in the U.S. over the past year, many returned home when we evacuated campus in March 2020. International students should be in touch immediately with the Office of International Students and Programs to ensure they have all the documents needed for visa appointments and travel to the U.S. for the fall semester. We are pursuing opportunities for an early return to ensure opportunities for vaccinations and quarantine requirements and more information will be provided in the next few months. 

Doing Our Part

Our plans are based on the progress Los Angeles County and the State of California is making in the fight against the transmission of COVID-19, and the assumption that the progress we have made in the last month will continue into the fall. Key to this has been access to vaccinations, something we have partnered with Henry Mayo Hospital and the County to make happen for our employees early. As a result of this, as well as the continued increase in vaccination access since then, a significant percentage of our faculty and staff have already received vaccinations. All employees will have access to vaccinations before the summer, and we have every reason to believe that all students will also have access to vaccines before the fall 2021 semester begins. We plan to partner again with local healthcare providers and the County to make sure that happens.

We are encouraging everyone to get vaccinated as soon as they have access to a vaccination and to also continue to follow guidance from the CDC and LA County Public Health. We are at an inflection point in the pandemic as a society, and we must continue to be vigilant in mask wearing, physical distancing, and following other public health measures as our recovery continues.

I deeply appreciate all those working to bring us back together and all of you who have studied and worked remotely over the past year. Your fortitude is inspiring. It will take all of us working together to ensure a safe and successful return to campus, where the creativity and community of in-person collaborations that fills us with joy can resume again. I’m looking forward to seeing you very soon.