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COVID-19 Response Hub

Otis College continues to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and is working closely with local authorities and our healthcare partners to ensure our community is as informed and prepared as possible. We are following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for higher education institutions to take the necessary steps when a case has been identified to ensure the health and safety of our entire Otis College community.

Further notifications regarding any changes in the College’s operating status will be disseminated via email, with the LiveSafe app as a notification back-up. If you have not downloaded the LiveSafe app, we strongly suggest that you do so now.

Residents of Los Angeles County should be aware of the most recent guidelines from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, including the Revised Temporary Targeted Safer at Home Health Officer Order for Control of COVID-19, which was dated December 30, 2020. The main overview page of the LACDPH website, with the most recent local updates, can be accessed here.

There have been a total of 20 cases of COVID-19 reported in the Otis Community since April 2020.

When someone from the community notifies the College that they have tested positive, the College will notify other community members who may have been in contact with this person and ask them to self-quarantine, consistent with guidelines from the L.A. County Department of Public Health. We will also add to the total reported cases above. To respect the privacy of the individuals, they will remain anonymous.

Current Academic Planning Efforts

  • The College is following the guidance put forth by the American College Health Association (ACHA) and recent CDC guidelines related to the reopening of colleges and universities. Health and safety continue to guide our efforts. This is why, after devising plans for a hybrid fall start of the 2020-2021 academic year, we had to revert to a fully remote environment due to current health guidelines, which do not allow for in-person learning of any kind. We were, however, able to open to students the library, labs, and shops, which are available by appointment. For more information, please visit the Otis Forward website.
  • Three groups at Otis College continue to work on current remote and possible future hybrid reopening plans: The COVID-19 Task Force, a special Academic Planning Group, and The Campus Life COVID-19 Task Force.

The College partnered with Frederick Fisher and Partners and Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects, who worked pro bono, to undertake a study of our labs, shops, studios, classrooms, technology, food services, Admissions, Student Life Center, and green spaces to help us increase space capacity for social distancing and the safe return of our faculty, staff, and students.

Visit Otis Forward for more information about the fall plans that have been implemented at the start of the 2020-2021 academic year, as well as plans for reopening the campus when it is deemed safe to do so.

The following pertains to when we would be able to reopen the campus:

  • Otis College has plans in place for an open campus when local and state public health agencies say it is safe to do so, with social distancing, face coverings, and strict cleaning protocols firmly in place to support the health and safety of our community.
  • These plans would offer a combination of online, blended, and on-campus classes in order to reduce the density of people on campus. All Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) courses would continue to be held online only.
  • Depending on the course, studio courses would be provided on campus, blended (a combination of on-campus and online) or fully online. 
  • Classes held on campus would meet with social distancing guidelines in place and masks would be required on campus.
  • Labs, shops, and studio/making spaces would continue to be open to students on a sign-up basis, with extended available hours.
  • Studio workspace, shops, and labs have been reconfigured to allow for additional space between students, and have standards of use that comply with CDC, city, and state health and safety guidelines.
  • There will continue to be options for students who want and/or need to study remotely. The College strives to be flexible with students to form a plan for their education that works best for them.
  • For the safety of our residential community, all on-campus housing would be single occupancy in the Residence Hall and Park West.


COVID-19 Timeline:

  • August 31: Fall semester starts with online-only classes. The library, labs, and shops—including the wood shop, metal shop, model shop, ceramics studio, printmaking lab, lab press, computer lab, video lab, and photo lab, the new Ben Maltz Gallery Workplace, and the 5th floor Product Design Studio—are available and open to students by appointment.
  • August 5: Decision to start Fall semester online with reopening components of the Otis Forward site delayed.  
  • June 23: Release of Otis Forward website detailing Fall 2020 Planning
  • May 8: Virtual Annual Exhibition 2020 website and Commencement website launch. 
  • May 4: "Looking Forward" Letter to the Community on plans to reopen for the Fall. 
  • March 30: Spring semester to resume online.
  • March 20: Student Emergency Fund announced. 
  • March 20: Majority of Otis residence students move out of campus housing. 
  • March 19: Mayor Eric Garcetti announces “Safer at Home” emergency order for Los Angeles, tentatively through April 19, and Governor Newsom announces a Stay at Home order for the state of California indefinitely. 
  • March 16: Otis College campus closes. 
  • March 12: Announcement that the remainder of the spring 2020 semester will be conducted online. 
  • March 10: COVID-19 Response Hub is launched on Otis’s website to chronicle updates from the special COVID-19 Task Force and the Senior Leadership Team. 
  • March 5: Special Task Force is convened and the Community Health Announcements page on the Otis website is launched. 
  • March 4: Governor Gavin Newsom declares a state of emergency as a result of the threat of COVID-19 in the state of California.
  • February 6: Extra precautionary measures—additional hand sanitation stations, increased cleaning schedule by janitorial staff, etc.—are taken around Otis College campus. 
  • January 24: First Community Health Notice is emailed to Otis community. 

In shifting to reduce the in-person presence on campus to every extent possible, we will maintain key functions remotely and help the remainder of the students living under our auspices in every way possible. 

This microsite is meant to help answer your questions about Otis College’s response to COVID-19. Please bookmark this page as new information will be posted as available. If there’s a topic that you would like to see covered, please email

If you are looking for updates about COVID-19, the Student Health and Wellness Center (SHWC) has established a Community Health Announcements page that contains information and updates regarding the virus that might affect the Otis Community. 

COVID-19 is not bound by race or nationality. Avoid inappropriate blame or hostility toward any specific nation or its people. Please read the CDC anti-stigma guidelines for facts about this illness. If you feel that you are being treated unfairly, discriminated against, or harassed due to concerns around this issue, please complete the online Bias Incident Reporting Form that will be directed to our Bias Incident Response Team.