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Testing FAQ

Updated July 1, 2021

On-campus testing resources are available to all members of the Caltech community. The conditions under which testing is provided is detailed at on the Caltech Together page on testing programs. Individuals with questions about their personal circumstance or situation, are welcome to reach out to staff at covid19@caltech.edu for additional information.

As of June 1, 2021, surveillance testing is no longer required of fully vaccinated individuals who have submitted proof of vaccination status in the COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation application.

Any member of the campus community who reports to campus, even on an occasional or one-day-a-week basis, but who has not submitted proof of vaccination must continue to participate in surveillance testing. Please consult directly with your manager or human resources on how to be included in the testing program.

As of June 21, 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.

Caltech requires that any individual who is officially enrolled, employed, or managed by the Institute and who reports to or accesses campus facilities even on an occasional or one-day-a-week basis, including students, faculty members, postdoctoral scholars, staff members, and registered visitors and volunteers, submit proof of their fully vaccinated status with the COVID-19 Vaccination Documentation tool. All community members who have not yet reported their fully vaccinated status must participate in the surveillance testing program.

Other visitors or external affiliates who are reporting to campus for work or other activities for a month or longer are encouraged but not required to participate in these protocols, and should contact their Caltech account or contract manager for further information.

The new Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL) testing program uses a self-collected saliva-based test that is processed on campus. It is not a diagnostic test, meaning that it is used to screen participants' samples for evidence of SARS-CoV-2, and does not produce a result that can be used for a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19. Instead, samples are "pooled" in groups of two; if a pool has evidence of viral material, both participants in that pool are contacted and provided a clinical diagnostic test by a medical professional at Student Wellness Services. 

The new internal lab is a resource that will enable the Institute to be flexible, ramp up or down testing as public health conditions change, and is a more cost-effective measure than running a large-scale testing operation with an external lab partner. The Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL) test can be conducted via self-collection, which makes the testing process easier for participants and reduces the need for temporary staff to collect samples. 

Due to the variance in test result times, access to testing in the community, and the administrative infrastructure needed to review tests not processed by Student Wellness Services (SWS), we will not accept outside test results at this time. Going forward, it may be possible to utilize your own healthcare provider for tests; if this becomes an option additional information will be provided to the community at that time.

Registration information and test results are accessed only by Student Wellness Services (SWS) staff with appropriate training in safeguarding your protected health information. Individuals who test positive will be contacted by a medical professional, and when relevant, will be referred to the Disability and Leave Administration Unit of Human Resources, who are also trained to handle sensitive health information in order to facilitate appropriate timekeeping and administration of employee benefits. Supervisors and managers will not be informed of individual test results.

For symptomatic tests, in the event of a positive diagnostic test result, a medical professional from Student Wellness Services (SWS) will contact you to initiate isolation measures and contact tracing procedures. Please be sure to answer your phone or respond to messages if a SWS clinician reaches out to you.

For surveillance tests, any positive screening through the surveillance lab will be referred for confirmatory diagnostic testing by SWS. Individuals with a positive diagnostic test result from SWS will isolate and participate in contact tracing.

For symptomatic tests, the majority of results, positive or negative, will be available within 48 hours. For surveillance tests, you will only be notified notified if you need to undergo a clinical diagnostic test through Student Wellness Services.

The Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL) is exploring collaborations with external resources for genetic sequencing of any samples that screen positive for SARS-CoV-2. Such sequencing would provide the Institute with insight into the strains or variants of the virus that are present in our community. More information will be provided to the community when and if it is available.

Any member of the community who reports to campus for research or work responsibilities, but who has not submitted proof of vaccination must participate in the surveillance testing program.