March 12: Community Update - For Students, Faculty and Staff

March 12, 2020

Dear CalArts Students,

This week, we made the extremely difficult move to pause courses for the remainder of this week, and through the next week, and to close our campus to students. We also decided to continue instruction after this pause using online and remote methods through (at this point) April 13th. We made these decisions understanding the tumult this would cause.

Since that moment, so many other things that gather us together – be it museums, theatres, schools, Disneyland, the NBA, you name it – have also closed, paused, or suspended their activity.

Each of you comes here for just the thing that the current public health pandemic does not allow us to do – be together. We define ourselves as a community of artists, and our closeness, our proximity to one another, is something we hold sacrosanct.

Now this thing that is so important to us – coming together – is something we physically cannot do. We are being asked, each one of us, to adhere to the principle of Social Distancing.

Given the requirements of social distancing, and how these requirements are essentially incompatible with all that normally happens at CalArts, this moment is even more disruptive for us than for other colleges and universities. It hurts. It’s painful. It’s confusing. And we hate it.

But, along with community and togetherness, there is another quality that is a unique feature of CalArts – our commitment to experimentation.

As soon as social distancing became our new reality, our faculty have jumped to make this moment into a grand “pedagogical experiment” (in the words of a faculty leader), albeit one that none of us were expecting.

To make this work, faculty members had to stop doing the things they normally do and take the time to prepare to interact with students online and through remote learning methods.

Hence the 8-day pause to prepare for this new kind of teaching and interaction.

But we are racing the clock. It is only a matter of time before the virus spreads, and requires others of us to self-quarantine, which will make it harder for us to prepare for classes to resume through remote instruction by March 23rd.

While we don't have answers to every question you might have right now, we are working quickly to gather information and resources and to make decisions. We've compiled responses to many of the questions students are asking and have shared those below. We will continue to provide updates to you by email, as well as update the website created for this moment:

Today we mourn the loss of the things we like about being on campus together – the closeness, the community, the conversation between us, all from very different places, but together at CalArts. All these good things are what make us vulnerable to this disease. And all these good things will return in the way we know them when we get past this moment. Our mutual perseverance will be the thing that makes all this possible.

Thank you,