CalArts Returns - Important Updates Regarding Campus Access

This message was sent to the CalArts community from President Ravi Rajan on important updates regarding campus access this semester.

Dear Colleagues, 

I hope this message finds you well, keeping cool during this heat wave, and finding ways (however small they may be) to relax before our new semester begins.

We have all been eagerly awaiting the guidance from Los Angeles County as to when and how we will be permitted to use campus resources for artmaking. The State was clear on August 7th that this is going to be allowed, but left it up to the counties to gauge when and how that should happen.

On Friday, August 14th the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released their guidelines for higher education. Suffice it to say, because of the continued higher rate of transmission for LA County over the previous month (when we had flattened the curve) the County is taking a harder line than the State and does not want any student activity in-person indoors of any kind for the current moment. Limited outdoor activity, including drive-by checkout of equipment, etc. is permitted. Faculty and Staff activity indoors to prepare and deliver curriculum is permitted, but only adhering to State and County regulations, and to be as limited and safe as possible. For students there were exceptions made for indoor work for those in allied health fields, in essential worker training, and notably for those in athletics. 

I got an opportunity to speak directly with the County’s Medical Officer, Dr. Ferrer, also on Friday. I asked her specifically about the arts and the use of specialized facilities and equipment on an individual basis and at a safely protected distance with PPE – expressly permitted by the California State guidance. She confirmed that, at this time, they do not want any on-campus activity by students whatsoever. When I then asked about why riskier activity than the arts was being permitted for athletics, Dr. Ferrer conceded that they do not want to permit that either, but that they were reluctantly allowing it due to pressure from that area of the sector. She added, in answer to my question and again at the end of the call unprompted, that she would look directly into the activity related to the arts that could be safer than that of athletic or direct instruction, and consider permitting that in the coming weeks as the curve flattens.

Obviously, this news is disappointing to us, but it should not slow down our preparation of artmaking spaces. When we are allowed we want to be ready to provide students controlled and restricted access to artmaking spaces so they can safely use them while adhering to strict health protocols. I will personally continue to engage the LA County Public Health Department to ensure that the needs of artists are considered in their policymaking.

In the meantime, here are some clarifications:

  • There will be extremely limited and controlled access to the campus. The campus will only be accessible to employees from 7:00am until 8:00pm; if access outside of these hours is necessary, please first contact Jesse Smith to make special arrangements.
  • Effective immediately, all people entering the campus must visibly wear a CalArts ID at all times (lanyards are available, and IDs will need to be the new version that includes the proximity feature).
  • Soon we will be utilizing a smartphone application so individuals can fill out a quick self-check for COVID-19 symptoms before entering campus, and then show the “green light approval” screen to Campus Safety to obtain entrance (individuals who do not have a smartphone or would prefer to do the self-check in person will have that option). As of this writing, only non-student employees are permitted access to the campus.
  • Because students are not yet allowed on campus, there are no student worker positions yet available; we deeply regret this and will make these opportunities available as our campus is allowed to reopen for access.
  • Schools, Departments, and Programs are arranging a system by which students will be able to pick-up and drop-off specialized artmaking equipment or library materials. This will be occurring outdoors on a drive-up basis with virtually no contact, and will allow us to make certain that students have the resources they need to continue their artmaking. Students will need to follow specific procedures to come to campus to pick-up or drop-off equipment (by appointment, and wearing masks), and those procedures will be communicated to them before the beginning of the semester.

Aside from the above, we are working hard to ensure that our practices meet or exceed public health and direct medical guidance from experts. This is so we can maintain the health and safety of our whole community -- students, faculty, and staff. I know these are demanding times and it often seems there are more questions than answers. Please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification about reopening to, and your questions will be redirected to the appropriate area for answers.

I have confidence that as a community we can remain committed to our mission of transformation through creative practice. Through perseverance, we will all advance in this together.

Many thanks,