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COVID-19 Testing

Updated November 21, 2022

Testing for Symptomatic or Exposed Individuals

As of Monday, November 14, the on-campus Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL) is closed, and daily saliva samples are processed through the external UCLA SwabSeq service. The new system provides a CLIA-certified negative or positive test result the next day, and there is no need for a confirmatory test of a positive result.

Please note that this change to surveillance testing program does not impact or alter any of the surveillance testing requirements: all undergraduate students; graduate students living in Caltech housing or participating in teaching; and students and employees with an Institute-approved exemption to the Caltech's vaccination and booster requirement must continue to submit two separate surveillance samples each week. Others may participate on a volunteer basis. However, the move results in changes to sample collection times, as well as how and when test results will be processed. All participants must register new testing kits. 

In addition, because of the change Caltech will no longer offer on-campus testing for symptomatic or exposed individuals. If you are ill or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, please stay home and contact your health care provider. Members of the Caltech community experiencing COVID-like symptoms should promptly report the illness through the Caltech COVID-19 Reporting App.

Surveillance Testing Program

Surveillance Testing Registration Process
All participants—including those who are required to participate in Caltech's surveillance testing program and those who may elect to do so voluntarily—need to register new "blue cap" testing kits to participate in the program run through SwabSeq. Current participants must register on the Olive Walk at the entrance to Lloyd House. The Olive Walk registration desk is open 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

When you re-register, you will need to fill out a fresh consent form and will receive new collection tubes with blue tops. 

Sample Collection Tubes
The change to blue-top tubes distinguishes the sample tubes used by SwabSeq from the orange-top tubes used by CCSL. Samples must be submitted in the correct tubes for SwabSeq. Failure to submit a sample with the correct tube will prevent the lab from processing your sample, leading to possible non-compliance with Institute testing requirements.

Sample Collection Drop-off 
Samples should continue to be deposited in one of the four drop-off locations currently available: In front of Bechtel on the Moore Lab breezeway, the Beckman courtyard, the Linde Laboratory courtyard, and in front of Lloyd, room 107.

  • Samples are to be dropped in the bins between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Monday to Friday. 
  • There will be no weekend collection (i.e. after 11 a.m. Friday until 8 a.m. Monday).

Testing Results
With the move to the external laboratory, results are reported differently. Notably, there is no need for a confirmatory test of a positive result. This means:

  • Individuals will receive results showing a CLIA-certified negative or positive test result. If you do have a positive result, Student Wellness Services will contact you with instructions and next steps through the Institute's health portal. 
  • To ensure next-day results, you must drop off your sample between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. on the day of collection. 
  • Results will be returned to you before 10 a.m. the following day. 

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

An individual who is required to participate but does not complete testing may have their access to campus restricted. Non-compliance will be managed in consultation with the Office of the Provost, or the Graduate and Undergraduate Deans' offices.

Voluntary participation in the surveillance testing program is available to anyone on campus. 

Further information and updates will be posted to the Caltech Together site's testing page, and questions may be directed to covid19@caltech.edu. Thank you for your continued cooperation and participation in the surveillance testing program. 

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Compliance
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 this online form (you must be logged into Google Workspace with your access.caltech credentials) managed by SWS.