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Testing FAQ

Updated November 4, 2022

All undergraduate students, graduate students living in Caltech-managed housing or participating in in-person learning, and employees with an Institute-approved exemption from COVID-19 vaccination are required to participate in twice-weekly surveillance testing. Faculty and staff involved in in-person instruction or reporting on-site are encouraged to participate in the program.

No. Caltech's surveillance testing 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 Monday, November 14, the on-campus Caltech COVID Surveillance Lab (CCSL) will close, and daily saliva samples will be processed through the external UCLA SwabSeq service. The new system will provide a CLIA-certified negative or positive test result the next day, and there will be no need for a confirmatory test of a positive result.

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.