March 18: Remote Learning Extended Through Spring Semester

The following message was distributed to CalArts students from the CalArts President of Ravi S. Rajan and the CalArts Provost Tracie Costantino

March 18, 2020

To the CalArts Community:

As you are aware, people and organizations across the country are taking measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. While there are still no confirmed COVID-19 cases at CalArts, we are extending our move to remote instruction for the remainder of the semester in an effort to enable increased social distancing for students, faculty, and staff by dramatically lowering the number of people physically on campus.

Remote Instruction -- Spring 2020 Semester

To be clear, CalArts will exclusively have remote classes for the remainder of the 2020 spring semester. Students will be able to complete all their spring 2020 coursework remotely, without being required to return to the CalArts Campus.

We are not suspending essential operations, but we must do our part to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 and maintain essential services for our students with the measures below -- following guidance from Governor Gavin Newsom, and federal, state and local public health officials.

CalArts made the decision to temporarily suspend in-person classes on March 10, 2020, and we had planned to continue remote learning through April 13. As of yesterday evening, the escalation of measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 and the updates regarding the potential length of time required for these social distancing measures in our area have led to our decision to continue with remote teaching through the end of the semester, and likely into the summer.

This will mean that starting on March 23, 2020, all forms of instruction inclusive of courses, independent studies, studios, lessons, reviews, and the like, will be conducted online or via other remote methods for the remainder of the semester. CalArts is working to actively implement virtual learning and remote curricular delivery to ensure academic continuity and degree progress for all students. Each school, and each program, is different, so it will be important for students to be in touch with their faculty mentors, course faculty, Program Directors, and Deans about these changes.

Student Housing and Food Operations

With the advice to reduce our on-campus population, student housing residents who can do so are encouraged to explore off-campus living arrangements to further increase social distancing. We will continue to offer housing options and food operations under these unusual circumstances so long as there is a need to do so. For students who would like to vacate their room and move off-campus, they may choose to do so and be eligible to receive credit towards a future semester for both room and board. All on-campus residents will receive specific information on these changes, as well as other services and assistance we are making available later today via e-mail. As always, Residence Life staff are on-campus to answer questions and walk through scenarios with individual students.

Academic Student Spaces and Events

Performances, recitals, gallery openings, etc. will not occur in-person this semester.  Student access to the physical buildings at CalArts – studios, labs, etc. – will remain restricted throughout the end of the 2020 spring semester. Given the volume of this activity that will be required when social distancing mandates are relaxed, CalArts faculty and staff are working to find additional spaces in the Santa Clarita and Los Angeles areas that could be used for student exhibitions, performances, screenings, etc. once life has returned to normal. 

Commencement Postponed Until COVID-19 Subsides

Commencement, one of the most special and unique events each year, will have to be postponed as an in-person experience.   We will be communicating with graduating students seeking feedback on how to best creatively celebrate online, and we will be in touch as soon as plans progress. We also plan to have larger celebrations and showcases this fall to highlight student work and to create a focus on spring 2020 graduating students who can be in the area and participate. However, we want to emphasize again that students who participate in and successfully complete the online curriculum for the remainder of this semester will graduate and receive their diploma on schedule. They will not be required to return to campus for this to happen.

An Educational Experience at a Distance

We want all of our students to understand that the faculty and Deans are doing all they can to ensure that students receive as robust an artistic and academic experience as possible.  We have already seen instances of brilliant creativity from our faculty in finding new ways to hold classes and teach. Much like those CalArtians who experienced upheaval from the 1994 earthquake, we both wholeheartedly believe that our student artists will learn, explore, and produce in ways that will overcome the effects of this crisis.

Health, Safety, and Well-Being

While we are doing all we can to continue our educational mission and continuity of instruction, the health, safety, and well-being of our community – including each of you – remains our top priority. It is expected that campus services will be offered online or via the phone to the extent possible, and in-person assistance will be very limited. Faculty and staff will need their ID to enter the campus, and students will need to schedule an appointment before their visit to the campus. Details about services will be forthcoming on our website as they are determined.

We realize this information may add to the already heightened anxiety for some while offering a sense of relief for others, and we know after yesterday that many of you have come to expect this outcome. Our Counseling Services continue to support student well-being and have online options that students can utilize at this time. You can find more information by calling 661-253-7874. In addition, all students have access to our 24/7 counseling line at 855-364-7981.

We know that each of you came here for a unique experience. One that involves being part of a close community of artists who hold dear our ability to interact in-person on a daily basis.  The renewing energy that comes from that human contact has been taken from us by this pandemic.

These times in which we live are unprecedented: no one alive has experienced anything like this. Dealing with this moment will likely require civic actions by governments and citizens alike not seen since the last world war. The outbreak has required extraordinary measures and sacrifices to protect the lives of our students, faculty, and staff, along with the communities around the globe in which we live. We believe these are the right steps to take to combat the spread of COVID-19, that we are doing our part to enable the best management of this pandemic, and we all hope that we can return to normal as soon as possible.

We recognize that these decisions and actions are creating significant challenges for you and that we are asking a lot of each of you in terms of flexibility, creativity, and goodwill. We will continue to update you by email and by posting important information to the CalArts website.

But as tough as these days have become, we have to keep in mind that this crisis, like the ones in our past, will come to an end. Our capacity to persevere is extraordinary. Through togetherness now, recovery will come faster, of that we can be sure.

We are deeply grateful for all you are doing and how you are resiliently managing these extraordinary changes during this difficult time.  Please continue to take care of yourselves and continue to look after each other, as you have been doing. We will weather this moment in solidarity, CalArtians all. 

Go to Coronavirus Information and Updates