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COVID-19 Testing

Updated May 11, 2022

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 a continued 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 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 a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

Once an individual promptly reports his/her/their illness or exposure through the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting App, a COVID-19 Management Team member will reach out via email regarding next steps (such as scheduling a COVID-19 test).

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

Vaccinated community members may also participate in the surveillance testing program; while individual test results are not made available to participants, those who wish to test before attending an event, lab meeting, travel, or other activity may submit samples up to twice per week. Participants will be contacted only if their sample is part of a 2-sample pool flagged for confirmatory diagnostic testing.

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 using a PCR-based assay. The Institute's surveillance testing program requires participants to self-collect and deposit saliva samples which are processed at the Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL), located in the Chen Institute of Neuroscience.

Students who may be absent from campus and not able to submit a sample, should record their absence with Student Wellness Services through an online form (you must be logged into Google Workspace with your access.caltech credentials).

You may register for and pick-up self-collection kits between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at the former Tech Express location (Lloyd 107, on the Olive Walk). No appointments are necessary.


Instructions for how to collect samples are available in English and in Spanish. Specimens can be dropped off between the hours of 8 am - 6 pm, Monday through Friday at the four drop-off locations (in front of Bechtel on the Moore Lab breezeway, the Beckman Institute courtyard, in the Linde Laboratory 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.

The CCSL will pool all submitted samples in groups of two, meaning that they will process the specimen samples collected from two different individuals at one time. Participants will receive a confirmation email or text message (depending on the preferred contact method provided at registration) every time they submit a sample and that sample is received by the CCSL for processing.

Participants are only contacted if their sample is in a pool that has been flagged for confirmatory diagnostic testing. If your sample is flagged for confirmatory testing, you will receive an email and text notification on the morning after you submit your sample. You must come to SWS (between 9 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. Tuesday – Saturday) for a nasal swab test. Results will be available later that same day. Please check your email and text notifications each morning after you submit a sample and be prepared to come within the testing window - this is important to ensure timely management of any positive results.

If you have additional questions about the testing program, please contact SWS at covid19@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.

All undergraduate and graduate students who are required to participate in the surveillance testing program are asked to report any absence from campus that will impact their ability to submit one or more samples in a given week. Such absences should be recorded through an online form (you must be logged into Google Workspace with your access.caltech credentials) managed by SWS.