Moments after the World Health Organization officially proclaimed the Coronavirus a pandemic Wednesday morning, Caltech President Thomas F. Rosenbaum, President, and David A. Tirrell, provost, released an update on the school’s website regarding a student that underwent testing for the virus after exhibiting mild symptoms and announced the decision to close the campus for the instructional term at the end of the day, to reopen on March 30.
“The Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) expects to provide test results on Thursday for the one graduate student tested for COVID-19,” the statement reads. “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.”
The virus has killed 4,373 people. At least 121,564 are infected with the virus worldwide. Pasadena officials say there no cases in Pasadena.
More than 50 people in Pasadena have been asked to self-monitor. City officials have not provided complete numbers.
Caltech officials said if a case of the virus is confirmed the school 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.
According to the statement, 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,” the statement said.
“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,” the statement reads.
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.
According to the statement, 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,” the statement said.
During the break the campus will remain open and active research projects will continue.