CalArts Returns - Fall 2020 Arts Study and Campus Life

This message was sent from Provost Tracie Costantino to the CalArts community, re: Academic Plan for Fall 2020.

Dear CalArtians,

As we count the days to the fall semester, I’m delighted to begin introducing CalArts Returns—the cooperative strategy to restart your arts study and campus life both in person and remotely.

Across campus, the entire community has been working to prepare plans for our fall return. This includes thinking through how you'll take your courses, engage with faculty and collaborate with your fellow artists. Rethinking the CalArts experience amid the coronavirus pandemic has demanded enormous imagination across the Institute, and we welcome your continued ideas as our planning gets finalized over the next weeks.

In the May survey many of you made it clear that you would value a hybrid experience when we reconvene for the new academic year. You prioritized secure, in-person access to key facilities, studios, labs, and other equipment, while suggesting fully remote learning in some cases— in particular lectures and seminars. You requested that performance-based metier classes be in person as much as safely possible.

We heard you. I hope you’ll be pleased to see your priorities, including everyone’s health and safety, incorporated into the blueprints here.

Before I jump into the details, keep in mind that these plans remain somewhat fluid. They hinge on a variety of public health guidelines, some of which may yet emerge from government authorities. The strategy we’ve pulled together reflects the best information that’s available now, along with guidance delivered from across the CalArts community.

Class Formats

Each class this fall will follow one of three models: entirely remote learning, a hybrid model that blends remote and in-person learning, and fully in-person learning. Lecture-oriented classes are likely to follow the entirely remote model, while classes with some small-group work and lab or studio-based work will follow the hybrid approach. Entirely in-person classes typically include movement- and performance-rich offerings and those that depend heavily on equipment housed on campus. Students will have access to studios, labs, and shops, with physical distancing and other safety protocols in place, in order to complete independent work.

The course catalog, to be released by early August, will identify the model assigned to each class. Registration for all new and returning students will begin Aug. 11. In the meantime, program and deans’ offices, the Registrar’s office, the International student services office, and academic advisors are ready to respond to your questions. While they won’t have all the answers yet, they can give you a good sense of what the fall will be like for you. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them over the next few weeks as we will continue to refine our plans.

Additional specifics from individual programs are forthcoming as each school will be distributing separate communications that give details for each metier.

Safety Practices

To help prevent transmission of the virus, we’ll follow stringent safety standards throughout our campus facilities at all times. This includes mandatory face coverings on campus and maintenance of a six-foot minimum physical distance from one another. Any exceptions to the physical-distancing standard will require pre-approval by the Institute.

So that in-person classes can maintain appropriate distancing among all parties, many class sizes will be reduced. In key areas of the main CalArts building, occupancy will be kept to a reduced density at all times. You’ll see other changes in the physical environment, too, like glass shields in the library, intensified cleaning practices, and more hand-sanitizing stations. 

Further, most classes will be conducted fully remotely after Thanksgiving—a precaution designed to further limit density on campus, facilitate adherence to institute travel policies, and minimize risk of infection during what is predicted to be a peak time for the virus. 

Open Doors—No Matter Where You Are

For students who can’t be in Los Angeles County this fall, CalArts will make sure the academic experience remains as fully and robustly available as possible. No matter where you are, opportunities will be in place for remote learning, collaboration across schools and metiers, and distanced  community engagement. This stands for international and any other students, including first-year students, who may be unable to travel to Southern California. We will work with all admitted students who can’t get to campus to develop a curricular path that will help you enroll even if on a part-time basis. 

We’ll be monitoring any new federal guidance for international students and will share immediately any insights and information that we receive.

A True Community

As we explore what it means to be creative in these historic days, we’re adapting not just the class experience but many dimensions of CalArts life. You may have already joined in as Thursday nights have migrated online. Expect to see more innovation in that vein—new thinking that brings us together in the spirit and traditions of our vibrant community. Our physical distance should be an opportunity in addition to a challenge. How we continue to bind together will be a test of our creativity. 

I can’t overstate how much ingenuity, thought, and sheer effort CalArtians have already poured into our plans for the fall. On the academic side, faculty members, program directors, and deans have worked into the summer to ensure the community's ability to thrive. Because of that tireless work, we have a clear strategy to sustain a meaningful, rich CalArts experience while prioritizing everyone’s well-being. 

While many in the community would’ve liked to have had these details sooner, it was important for us to afford state and county authorities as much time as possible to develop operating guidelines that will influence our reality on campus. That slowed the planning process as we’ve made sure to honor and incorporate all new protocols.

Some of those standards may yet shift. We’ll let you know if they do. Additionally, over the next few weeks, we'll be releasing detailed strategies for fall housing, dining, campus safety protocols, and other key operations.

Meanwhile, stay safe. Be well. We can’t wait to see you—in person and on screen—in the coming months.



Tracie Costantino

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