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Looking ahead to the late fall and early spring

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
Our days are becoming shorter and cooler as we move toward the time of the year when the fall and winter holidays quickly approach. As you look to finish strong this semester or term, I thought it would be helpful to share the current COVID-19-related guidance that has emerged since the President's Update I delivered in early October.

On October 6, Ventura County moved from the purple tier into the less-restrictive red tier of the California Blueprint Data Chart. The progress the county has made in managing COVID-19 allows Cal Lutheran to expand services and opportunities for students. At this point in time, we are 1) carefully reviewing the guidance offered, 2) continuing to meet or exceed all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state, and county guidelines, and 3) following all public health protocols. In doing all three, we aim to move in tandem with tiered allowances.
As we begin our synchronized red-tier movement, please be aware of the following: 

  • The red tier allows in-person classes to meet indoors at 25% of room capacity. In response, 12 faculty members so far have decided to switch their remaining fall classes to align with this guidance. To date, traditional undergraduate and graduate faculty members are offering 28 in-person classes indoors, and an additional seven classes are offered utilizing our outdoor classrooms.
  • Indoor gyms can now operate at 10% capacity; patrons are expected to maintain a 12-foot distance from others and wear a face covering.  With these guidelines in focus, we are preparing to open Forrest Fitness Center this week and keep the outdoor fitness area open as well.
  • Restaurants are permitted to serve indoor guests at 25% capacity. Hence, we have opened up some well-spaced tables inside Ullman Dining. These will augment the properly-spaced outdoor tables that are currently in use.

In another step forward, we have decided to allow limited recruitment-related travel. Coaches and enrollment staff can request approval from their vice president for traveling solo by car. If the trip is approved, they must isolate at home and work remotely for five days upon their return. They must also submit a negative test result for COVID-19 to Health Services before returning to campus.
As we travel the cautious path forward to repopulating our campuses and centers, I am looking forward to spring semester with hope and excitement. Staff and faculty throughout the University have been called to plan and prepare for their own return and to help shape the return of a greater number of students. The notes and calls we are receiving from students at the Thousand Oaks campus and PLTS indicate increased interest in exploring creative options for in-person classroom instruction, safely designed social options, and mask-to-mask co-curricular activities. By no means will it be life as we knew it pre-COVID-19. Still, we must strive to deliver the experience our students expect and deserve: creating a more vibrant, meaningful, and interactive face-to-face experience than was possible while we were in the purple tier.

With that goal in mind, let me describe where the Cabinet and the EOC team members are converging as we map out next steps.
If public health guidelines allow it, we will offer newly formatted face-to-face classes for traditional undergraduate students starting in January. For most traditional undergraduate programs, we will likely rely on outdoor classrooms and split-meeting sections. I suspect that department chairs and deans have been or will soon be working with their respective faculty to iron out the details these changes entail. We have three months to polish our plans.
Graduate classes in education, psychology and management will be offered in a mix of face-to-face and virtual formats. PLTS will return to delivering courses both virtually and face-to-face, and the Bachelor’s Degree for Professionals Program will remain virtual.
In terms of the residential experience, we aim to increase the number of on-campus students to 668, about 45% of capacity. We have had 175 students complete a spring housing contract during the last two weeks; we invite others who wish to move back on campus to submit their contract ASAP. We are canceling spring break to reduce the risk associated with back-and-forth travel, and ending the spring instruction one week early for traditional undergraduates and graduate students in 15-week semester programs. We anticipate scheduling small, staggered in-person commencement ceremonies after spring classes conclude to celebrate the classes of 2020 and 2021. Details are forthcoming.
In the meantime, we are launching an additional four-week intersession term for traditional undergraduates starting December 7. Students who are enrolled full time at Cal Lutheran in the fall will receive scholarship support. More than 100 students have already registered for one of the 35 courses being offered.
I know that all of us are in flux right now. Both our concrete routines and our bright hopes have been disrupted. None of what you are doing is clear or easy, but you are doing it — bumps and all. For Cal Lutheran to weather this pandemic and for our students to live and learn while we are fighting through it, we must carefully and methodically return to campus.
Most sincerely,

Lori E. Varlotta, 


  • Positive Cases and Cal Lutheran Return to "Purple Tier"
    Mon November 16, 2020

    Effective immediately, we will return to operating under the rules governing the state’s more restrictive “Purple Tier” in which we began the semester rather than the “Red Tier” Ventura County entered on Oct. 6.

  • Return to Campus: Next Steps
    Fri October 30, 2020

    This note provides additional detail regarding President Varlotta’s campus email of October 29 that calls the Thousand Oaks campus and Oxnard Center to increase onsite staffing levels to about 50%.

  • A gradual return to campus and some of the things we have missed
    Thu October 29, 2020

    With November fast approaching, I want to update you on where the members of Cabinet and the Emergency Operations Committee are in terms of our phased-in repopulation plan.

  • Services and Facilities Available in Thousand Oaks and Oxnard
    Fri October 23, 2020

    Current health orders allow us to offer some services in person on our Thousand Oaks campus and at our Oxnard Center.

  • COVID-19 Dashboard
    Tue October 20, 2020

    We have launched a COVID-19 Dashboard on our KNOW site to provide updated data on positive cases within our community.

  • Looking ahead to the late fall and early spring
    Thu October 15, 2020

    I thought it would be helpful to share the current COVID-19-related guidance that has emerged since the President's Update I delivered in early October.

  • COVID-19 case
    Sat September 26, 2020

    An employee tested positive for COVID-19 and may have been contagious while working on our Thousand Oaks campus.

  • Reopening of Cal Lutheran offices
    Thu September 17, 2020

    As leaders of the pandemic planning committee, we are working with colleagues across the university to carefully and methodically design and implement a phased-in return-to-campus plan.

  • COVID-19 Case
    Tue September 1, 2020

    Someone tested positive during our planned testing of all arriving residential students.

  • COVID-19 Case
    Fri August 28, 2020

    A residential student tested positive for COVID-19 during our planned testing of all arriving residential students.