Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates and Information
The Division has been covering the cost of purchasing some items in support of remote teaching, if they are pre-approved and consistent with the cost expectations for the type of equipment. If you are part of the instructional faculty, staff, or a TA for the spring term and have purchased items in support of your teaching duties please contact Marcella Ta at email@example.com for information regarding reimbursement. Please note, however, that only items pre-approved are guaranteed for reimbursement. For purchases supporting remote continuity of sponsored research efforts, please contact your grant manager or Sam Westcott at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on how to coordinate with your funding agency to track and process those expenses. Unfortunately, personal items purchased to support remote sponsored research work during this pandemic will not be considered for reimbursement by the Division.
Facilities will be installing solar panels on the roofs of several PMA buildings, including East Bridge, West Bridge, Bridge Annex, Downs-Lauritsen, and the Synchrotron in the coming months. Beginning the week of April 13, the solar panels for all buildings will be delivered and installation will begin on East Bridge, West Bridge and Bridge Annex. This will involve several trucks delivering materials and cranes to move the panels to the roofs of each building. Additionally, contractors will be doing conduit work within the buildings as part of the installation portion of the project. While most of the campus population is working offsite at this point, we have asked the Facilities organization to try to minimize the noise level to prevent disruption of any remote teaching that may be happening from Faculty offices and classrooms. If you have any questions or concerns about this, please contact Shruthi Aradhya at email@example.com.
And, for Humor of the Day:
The University of California Research Grants Program Office is offering up to $25,000 for Emergency COVID-19 Seed Funding. Caltech faculty are eligible to apply for this funding. Please note that the University of California will not pay any indirect costs on these projects. The Provost's Office has agreed that proposals can be submitted for direct costs only up to $25,000. However, the PI will be required to include salary of at least $5,000 for the PI in the proposal. Proposals can be submitted as of April 6 and will be received and reviewed until the funding has been exhausted.
A reminder to faculty to add minimum required information into Moodle, like the syllabus with course policies, course schedule with due dates, and links to online resources that will be used.
Admins can be added to groups of Moodle courses if they just need to help faculty upload files.
If you have any questions or need assistance get in touch with Nam Ung.
The deadline for proposals for the Schwartz/Reisman Collaborative Science Program between Weizmann Institute has been extended to April 27th.
The Schwartz/Reisman Collaborative Science Program has been made possible through the generosity of the Gerald Schwartz and Heather Reisman Foundation. The objectives of this program are to support joint projects pursuing fundamental research in diverse domains of science of interest to both institutions.
By encouraging and supporting collaborations between researchers at Weizmann and Caltech, the donors hope to increase and strengthen the ties between the two institutions and to promote scientific discoveries that will have high impact in various scientific fields of importance to both institutions and society.
And, for Humor of the Day:
The Institute created a survey (found here) for Lab PIs and Managers to fill out the quantity of each PPE item in their inventory.
After we review the data we will get back to you with next steps. We appreciate your help with this.
While approval was necessary when the division was in an optional telecommuting mode, formal approval is no longer required. Be in communication with your supervisor about how best to telecommute during this time.
And, for Humor of the Day:For all you adventurers out there...
Reminder: Please remember, it is mandatory (not optional) that all lectures be recorded to allow for asynchronous participation by students. Please also refer to the recommendations for zoom settings to avoid "Zoombombing." Also, the http://teach.caltech.edu website now has information about FERPA-compliant means of sharing video recordings, and should address most concerns about privacy.
To assist students in successfully completing their winter courses during this period of disruption, Caltech has adjusted deadlines for students to submit final coursework and for instructors to submit final grades as follows
- March 27 – deadline for students to submit winter term work (final exams and assignments)
- April 10 – deadline for instructors to submit final grades in REGIS
There appears to be contradictory information about winter term deadlines on Caltech's main COVID-19 information webpage and the Caltech Teach webpage. Please follow the guidelines set forth on the Caltech Teach webpage, which supersedes earlier messages about winter term deadlines.
Don't forget to pick up the latest online-teaching book!
And, for Humor of the Day:
Due to the current environment, Caltech will extend the deadline to submit claims from March 31, 2020 to April 30, 2020 for expenses incurred through 2019.
If you have a balance in your 2019 Dependent Day Care Spending Account remaining as of March 23, 2020, any balance remaining after April 30, 2020 will be forfeited in accordance with IRS legal requirements.
Claims and supporting documentation can be submitted online at http://healthequity.com/ or through the HealthEquity Mobile App (download for free on Google Play and the iTunes App Store). Claims can also be submitted via fax or U.S. mail with a claim form, which is available on your Member Portal in the Docs & Forms section and is also attached to this email.
To obtain your most current balance information, please visit http://healthequity.com/ or contact HealthEquity Member Services at 866-346-5800.
We are writing to provide a brief status report on sponsored research operations as they have been impacted by the COVID-19 situation. The Office of Sponsored Research and the Office of Export Compliance are fully operational. Staff are telecommuting, but are available to assist faculty members, grant managers, and others throughout the day with proposal submission, acceptance of incoming awards, and addressing unanticipated situations related to the impact of COVID-19 on normal campus operations. A website has been established to provide on-going guidance for proposals and awards. The url is: https://researchadministration.caltech.edu/COVID_19
Many agencies have issued deadline extensions as a result of COVID-19. Each agency has taken a slightly different approach to dealing with deadline extensions, if at all, so it's best to communicate directly with each funding agency for the latest information.
NIH has made a general statement about proposal deadlines at:
NSF has consolidated its deadline extensions at: https://www.nsf.gov/bfa/dias/policy/covid19/covid19_deadlines.pdf
Administrative Relief on Federal Awards
The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has issued guidance allowing Federal agencies to provide some administrative relief to grantees. It will be up to each agency to issue its own implementation of the OMB recommendations. As of March 23, only NSF and NIH have issued specific instructions to grantees; links are available on the ORA COVID-19 webpage referenced above.
Charges to Federal Awards
Federal regulations take the position that charges to federal awards must be allowable under the award terms and must be consistent with institutional policy. Based on all the information provided by the Federal government thus far, funds from Federal agencies can be used to pay faculty and staff who are working on sponsored projects, whether working remotely or at their normal workplace. To the extent that a federal agency provides extraordinary administrative relief for awards impacted by COVID-19 (e.g., the cost of trip cancellation costs), these costs may only be charged to federal awards to the extent an institution's policy allows. Please continue to follow Caltech guidance when making charges to sponsored awards. Caltech HR will be issuing specific guidance for the ways in which employees' time should be recorded if impacted by COVID-19, regardless of the funding source.
Considerable detail on these topics is provided on the website. Please feel free to contact Richard Seligman or David Mayo with any questions you may have.
A list of things you shout at colleagues over Zoom, or shout at your children while shouting a colleagues over Zoom?
And, for Humor of the Day:
Dear Faculty and Instructors:
An email (READ HERE) was sent to the students. It explains the registration process developed to allow remote changes to occur with minimal disruption to the parties involved. Due to circumstances such as offering changes, course cancellations, and grading scheme change opportunities, we anticipate many adjustments to occur. Due to the high volumes expected, we will not accept email requests for registration changes from faculty or students. Students should make changes in REGIS when possible. If requesting a course conflict or over enrollment, the student announcement's processes should be followed. They are designed to minimize faculty and staff workload.
Course conflicts will be handled by the workflow form noted in the student email. You will be sent a separate email this afternoon that goes over the process as it relates to faculty.
Faculty and advisors will not need to sign off on each change except in cases of course conflict or over enrollment. Because of this, communication and remote advising will be integral to the process.
Advising Expectations. Students were told to have remote discussions with advisors prior to making their changes in REGIS. There will be a three-day window for advising before REGIS re-opens. Advising discussions may occur after Friday as needed. However, we hope most discussions happen this week so that students can start accessing their online classes.
Classes start becoming accessible by Monday, March 30, but regular class meetings do not begin until April 6. Because students must be registered for courses before gaining access to the virtual environment, we expect that they will make all of their course additions earlier than usual.
Faculty may advise against poor choices related to the unusual circumstances of the term. You may view their schedule through REGIS. You may also request an advising hold be placed on their account if you wish to halt further registration until they speak with you.
The pass/fail grading option may lead to a slight increase in requests for students to move into demanding or rigorous courses simply to be able to take advantage of the pass/fail grading option. If you feel that your advisee may be putting themselves into a risky situation, please reach out to them and feel empowered to ask for them to drop the class.
Thank you for your assistance in these temporary processes. We hope that their efficiencies have minimal disruption to everyone's start of term.
FOR GRANT MANAGEMENT PERSONNEL,
With the evolving COVID-19 situation there are surely questions regarding what impact there may be to proposals and awards.
NSF and DOD have issued guidance relative to grants affected by COVID-19. Links to that information, as well as other grant sources, can now be found on the Research Administration website.
An open letter to our Caltech community:
Today, we in the Staff and Faculty Consultation Center are launching a new space on our site, called TheWell@Caltech. This will continue to be a place to go for a steady channel of mental health support, including coping strategies, tools and techniques, resources of many types, and a place to connect.
The vision behind this idea was to create an "oasis" of sorts, in the face of a barrage of distressing news, disruptions to our daily routines, and the loss of a sense of control in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting today, you will find some essential tip sheets for better sleep, self-care, normal reactions in a time of crisis, and managing your intake of distressing media content.
In the coming days, we will be adding to this content with more links to physical health resources, mindfulness, targeted tools for managers, and information for special populations, including parents of young children, those with eldercare concerns, and partners who may be in isolation with someone who causes them to feel unsafe.
As of today, many of us join others throughout California in "staying at home." We feel the discomfort of having our daily life patterns significantly altered. Others continue to come to work and face fears and concerns associated with that experience. Below, please find suggestions on how best to weather these challenges.
One of Caltech's great strengths is that we are a community that enjoys many close ties and associations. If you are reading this, chances are good that you know me, or another member of our SFCC team. One of the biggest stressors in this time is a loss of this sense of connection. TheWell@Caltech will have items of interest to our particular community, and be shaped by input from you, too. It will be a place to restore and re-engage with one another.
We are here for you and will continue to be.
Linda Krippner, Psy.D.
Caltech Staff and Faculty Consultation Center
Spring Online Instruction Update:
The development of online courses for spring is moving quickly and we appreciate all your work. To keep you informed of new resources, recommendations, and answers to common questions, we'll be sharing these brief updates every few days through the first week of the new quarter, and as needed thereafter. These messages are assembled by CTLO, AMT, IMSS, the Registrar's Office, the Deans' Office, and the Provost's Office.
Please send any course cancellations, changes to offering times, changes to enrollment limits, or new course offerings to firstname.lastname@example.org by 3pm today. This deadline is to ensure that course offerings are up-to-date when students are sent their upcoming registration announcement.
CTLO and AMT will be co-hosting office hours for all faculty and instructors Tuesday-Friday this week (March 24th-27th) from 1-2pm PDT daily – please join us at Zoom Meeting ID: 467-212-771,https://caltech.zoom.us/s/467212771. Programming for TAs and further programming for faculty will be announced in upcoming email updates.
If you are just getting started, looking for instructions or approaches, or seeking directions for using Caltech online teaching tools, please visit http://teach.caltech.edu. We are regularly adding information and updating that site, with changed listed on the front page.
3/23/2020 Spring Online Teaching Updates:
Start of instruction; campus access for teaching:
- Please read the message from the President and Provost on 3/20/2020 indicating that classes and assignments (the start of instruction) will be on Monday 4/6/2020, and sharing information on the use of on-campus facilities for remote instruction.
- Currently, the spring term is planned to end at the usual time, meaning there will be one less week of instruction. Because so many transitions and challenges exist at this time, instructors may wish to select the most important concepts and skills, and provide adequate time for students to learn and practice them well, rather than trying to further condense content into fewer weeks.
- All spring term course sites have been created in Moodle. Find your course(s) under "Navigation" on the left side of the interface.
- TAs known to the Registrar's Office as of 3/17 have been added to Moodle course sites.
- Spring Moodle course sites will open to students starting 3/30/2020 (1 week before spring instruction begins).
- The institute requests that faculty/instructors upload a syllabus and any links or instructions for students about course resources and communications in Moodle, so that students know where to find key information for all for their courses.
- When using Zoom to make video recordings (either of pre-recorded lectures or live sessions with students), we recommend using "Record to this computer." Find out more here. For now, you can store recordings in Box. We are piloting Google drive for video storage and sharing with students. We will communicate additional details shortly.
- As you plan for spring, please consider that students will be in different time zones and could have intermittent internet access. For any class meetings, discussions, or lectures delivered live/synchronously, please record and share with students whenever possible.
- Video recordings of synchronous classes with student names/video/information should not be shared on public websites; please share these with students via Moodle or another private method of communication.
- If you need equipment to support online teaching (e.g., microphone, webcam, digital writing tablet), AMT has a limited supply available to borrow: http://teach.caltech.edu/tech-tools/equipment.
- The students' overall experience with Zoom, Moodle or viewing pre-recorded videos will vary significantly depending on each individual's network connection.
- VPN should not be used in accessing the above applications since it will further degrade student's overall experience.
- An institutional license for Gradescope, a secure, FERPA-compliant application for submission, grading, and feedback of student assignments/exams (especially quantitative and coding assignments/problem sets), is now available. Please find more information at http://teach.caltech.edu/tech-tools/gradescope-guide.
FERPA and security for online teaching:
- We have added guidance at http://teach.caltech.edu/ferpa-security.
Student resources and support:
- Please plan assignments so that students can access material and turn in their work online. Students may not have printers at home. More info here: http://teach.caltech.edu/online-teaching/assignments-exams
- If any students share that they are having difficulty connecting to the internet, have limited bandwidth, etc., please refer them to the Dean's Office for support.
- Students will also be learning to collaborate online, and the environment will be quite different from campus-based studying (e.g., home context, family members who may become ill, stress). Please consider these differences when planning your course.
- Student counseling is available and has provisions for remote student support: https://wellness.caltech.edu/counseling
Thanks for your attention and please let us know if you have any questions: email@example.com.
Our University Librarian, Kara Whatley, put together a message that describes library services for Spring Term. Read it here.
The library is also working to provide eBooks for all Spring classes. They'll be reaching out to PMA faculty and instructors who are teaching spring term to either provide established ebooks (already owned / temporarily available from publishers) or scanned PDFs of print books held in our collections. Please reach out to Joy Painter if you have questions.
The Spring Term calendar will remain unchanged from the existing calendar. The first week of instruction will be used to get students and instructors prepared for online lectures and instruction will begin on April 6th.
Many campus services have been curtailed, modified, or moved online. Information on the current status of dining, wellness, emergency, computer, and other services is being updated on this website.
In view of current events, the Dean of Graduate Studies has decided that we will not allow early arrival of incoming graduate students during the summer term. The earliest date incoming graduate students may arrive on campus is September 1, 2020. While we recognize the advantages of arriving during the summer term, this puts a significant strain on many campus resources (Housing, Health and Wellness, Student Affairs, International Scholars Program, etc.). All our efforts are currently focused on supporting our students on campus in the event that they experience significant disruption to their progress over the next few months that could impact their need to remain in campus Housing, along with other resources that are also required to process incoming graduate students.
Regular campus updates can be found on a dedicated website, Caltech's Coronavirus Information page.
Custodial Signs on Doors:
As we move to an expanded remote operations mode on campus, the custodial crews are working around the clock to disinfect rooms and they have been leaving the following signs on doors. If you have been given approval to access campus at this time and you encounter this sign on your office door, please remove it when you enter your office. The custodial crews will know to re-clean rooms when the signs are removed.
Help Desk Reduced In-Person Support:
Dear Caltech Administration and Faculty,
To protect everyone's health the IMSS Help Desk is minimizing in person support. We encourage you to call us at 626-395-3500 for assistance. In those few cases where the Help Desk determines that an in person meeting is required, we will arrange an in person meeting in a way that protects the health of both parties.
Please note we are experiencing a very high number of requests. If your call is not answered, please submit a ticket by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to helping the Caltech community as effectively as possible during these difficult times.
IMSS Help Desk
Packages are still being received on campus. Due to reduced staffing in Shipping & Receiving as well as in the PMA Division Office, the packages are being held in one of the two locations listed below. If you have a critical package that you need to collect, please call one of the numbers below to ensure your package has arrived and to request the best means for receiving your package.
Packages over 50lbs are being received at Central Receiving, which is located at 391 S. Holliston Ave. (626) 395-4893
Packages under 50lbs are being received at Campus Post Office, which is located at Keith Spalding Building - Room 104 • (626) 395-6371
Counseling Services will offer telephone-based brief counseling and crisis management instead of face-to-face meetings until further notice. Details can be found here: https://wellness.caltech.edu/counseling
We wanted to let you know that the following message will be sent out today to all new incoming scholars:
International Scholar Services (ISS) has received a mandatory update from the Department of State (DOS) regarding the J-1 Exchange Visitor program. DOS has directed us not to issue any new J documents for 60 days, and to delay any new J arrivals for 60 days, from March 11. Although we do not know what will happen in the next couple of months our current plan is to use June 1 as a tentative date from which we will be able to resume normal functions.
We understand that this guidance may affect you as a new incoming scholar as your intended start date with Caltech may be delayed. The Faculty and the Division Administration have been informed of possible delayed start dates.
J DOCUMENTS ALREADY RECEIVED
- Additionally, for those scholars that have already been issued and received their DS-2019 (J documents) you may not be able to schedule your visa appointment with a U.S. Consulate depending on where you live. We have received word from scholars that are unable to schedule visa appointments or that their already scheduled appointments have been cancelled. If this is the case, do let us know so that we can amend your start date in the SEVIS system. We will likely send you updated documents when we are able to resume processing.
J TRANSFERS WITHIN THE U.S.
- At this time we are still able to accept SEVIS transfers from other institutions. Transfers will still move forward.
- We will continue to provide you with updates moving forward. Please continue to stay informed regarding the current COVID-19 guidance. Individual travel plans into the United States are subject to U.S. government's Centers for Disease Control guidelines, which are changing frequently. Regular campus updates can be found on a dedicated website, Caltech's Coronavirus Information page.
Please let ISS know if you have any questions.