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Testing FAQ

Updated October 14, 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.

The opt-in surveillance program is open to fully vaccinated faculty, staff, postdoctoral scholars, and graduate students, who are not living in Institute housing. All undergraduate students, regardless of living location, and graduate students who are living in Institute-owned and managed housing are required to participate in twice weekly testing.

Furthermore, any member of the community who has an approved exemption is on file, is also required to participate in the Institute's surveillance program. Two samples should be submitted each week.

No. Caltech's surveillance program is only available to individuals who are directly employed or enrolled at Caltech, or are contractors or affiliates who work on behalf of the Institute or have regular access to Caltech facilities for the purpose of their work or research.

All students living in Caltech housing are required to participate in surveillance testing. Roommates or other household members who are not Caltech community members may participate but are not required to.

Those interested in participating should contact covid19@caltech.edu to enable their registration.

Individuals may collect and submit up to two self-collected samples per week. Depending on your access to campus and personal needs, if you are participating on a voluntary basis, you may choose to submit samples on a less frequent or more sporadic basis.

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.

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.

Caltech requires that all enrolled undergraduate students (regardless of housing location), graduate students living in Institute-owned housing, and all employees with an approved exemption on file submit twice weekly specimen for analysis.

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 Student Wellness Services.

Please bring a cell phone or tablet with the ability to read QR codes. Most devices are able to do this through the camera function. For individuals who do not have access to such a device, the test kit attendants will be able to assist you.

Individuals with mobility or other issues that may make it difficult to visit the kit pickup site can contact covid19@caltech.edu. Arrangements for cart transportation can be made to accommodate these circumstances.