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COVID-19 Testing

Updated July 1, 2021

Caltech offers two types of COVID-19 testing through Student Wellness Services (SWS). These services are provided free-of-charge to members of the community, as detailed below, as part of an ongoing effort to proactively screen for and mitigate the risks of disease transmission within the Caltech community.

While an important aspect of Caltech's risk-mitigation efforts, testing alone is not enough. All members of the community are expected to adhere to all required preventative health measures (including wearing a mask indoors if you are not fully vaccinated and washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol) as well as to notify the Institute through the COVID-19 Web Reporting Application if you are experiencing any COVID-like symptoms of illness.

Testing for Symptomatic/Exposed Individuals

Members of the campus community (faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and students) may be eligible for SARS-CoV-2 nasal swab testing through SWS in the following circumstances:

  • You are experiencing COVID-like symptoms;
  • You have been referred to SWS for diagnostic testing after being identified through the Institute's surveillance testing as having a potential positive result;
  • You have been identified as a close contact (within six feet for an accumulated 15 minutes or longer) of an ill person;
  • You have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19;
  • You are engaging in Institute-sponsored travel to a destination that requires negative COVID-19 test results for entry.
  • Or you have participated in activities that present an elevated risk for exposure.

Contact SWS by phone (626-395-6393, Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.– 5 p.m.) in advance of acquiring a testing appointment, so that a medical provider can evaluate your situation and provide you with further instructions. Individuals experiencing COVID-like symptoms should also promptly report the illness through the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting App.

Individuals pursuing testing for personal travel, medical procedures, or other personal reasons may be referred to testing through primary care providers or other testing resources in the community.

On-Campus Surveillance Testing Program

Caltech maintains a campus-based surveillance testing program to regularly screen individuals reporting to campus or regularly accessing campus facilities for the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Students, faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, staff members, and campus affiliates who are reporting to campus but who have not yet submitted proof of their fully vaccinated status are required to participate. Those who have submitted proof of their vaccinated status are excused.

The Institute's surveillance testing program is being conducted via a self-collection process operated through the Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL), located in the Beckman Institute. Any individual who has not yet picked up a kit for self-collection may do so between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m., Monday through Thursday at the former Tech Express location (Lloyd 107, on the Olive Walk).


Samples should be returned only during the weeks in which an individual reports to campus. Instructions for how to collect samples are available in English and in Spanish. Specimens can be dropped off between the hours of 9 am - 4 pm, Monday through Thursday at the three drop-off locations (in front of Bechtel on the Moore Lab breezeway, the Beckman Institute courtyard, and in front of Lloyd 107). If you miss the drop-off time, please discard the sample and provide a new one on the next available date.

You will only be contacted if your sample is flagged as a potential positive result; Student Wellness Services will contact you and schedule a diagnostic test to confirm your result and provide additional instructions.

If you have additional questions about the testing program, please contact SWS at covid19@caltech.edu; for questions about reporting to campus during this time period, or the testing requirement, please contact Employee & Organizational Development (EOD) at eod@caltech.edu.


An individual who is required to participate (as outlined above) but who does not complete mandatory testing may have their access to campus restricted. Non-compliance will be managed through the individuals' manager or supervisor, in consultation with Human Resources, the Office of the Provost, or the Graduate and Undergraduate Deans' offices.