Going to Campus
A Guide for the Caltech Community
Updated October 18, 2021
In-person classes are once again being taught, undergraduate residences are again welcoming students, and all Caltech employees are transitioning to in-person work. As a member of the Caltech community, here is what you need to know before coming to campus or your off-campus facility:
Caltech, following the health orders of Los Angeles County, requires all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, to wear masks when inside buildings. For more information, please review the EPA review of the effectiveness of face masks, the CDC's guide to face masks, and a review of the effectiveness of several dozen commercially available masks by a Caltech faculty group (access.caltech credentials required).
All students participating in in-person classes will be required to wear high-quality N95 masks while in instructional spaces, both indoors and outdoors. Through the Caltech Store, the Institute will provide N95 and KN95 masks for all employees and students beginning Monday, Sept. 27, and strongly recommends their use by instructors. Ten masks will be handed out at a time; individuals requesting masks must show their Caltech ID. Please review the Proper Use of N95 Respirators and Cal/OSHA's guidance on how to wear an N95 mask.
COVID-19 vaccination is mandatory for all Caltech students and staff. All active faculty, staff, postdoctoral researchers, and students on campus and at off-site facilities, apart from JPL, have either confirmed their full vaccination status, or have an approved exemption. Indoor access to all research, academic, and administrative spaces on campus is restricted to those individuals or guests who have complied with the Institute's vaccination requirement. For additional information or guidance on navigating campus, please review the Vaccination FAQs.
Flu vaccination is strongly recommended for all students and employees. Human Resources will facilitate a free, on-campus flu vaccination clinic for employees. Students will be provided access to the flu vaccine through SWS.
Caltech offers two types of testing: surveillance testing and testing for symptomatic/exposed individuals.
- All enrolled undergraduate students, graduate students living in Caltech-managed housing, and all students or employees who are not fully vaccinated (with or without an approved exemption) are required to be tested twice a week.
- All other members of the Caltech community are allowed to test up to twice a week on a voluntary basis.
- Any member of the Caltech community who is experiencing COVID-like symptoms or has been been in close contact with someone who has a laboratory-confirmed case of COVID-19, should contact SWS for consultation, instructions, and testing resources. If testing is indicated, SWS uses nasal swab PCR tests.
In addition to its continued symptomatic testing and and asymptomatic surveillance program, SWS has established pre-arrival testing requirements for all students living in Caltech-owned housing.
- Students coming to campus are required to provide a negative COVID test taken within three days before their date of arrival. PCR tests are strongly preferred. However, proctored antigen test results with official result reports will also be accepted for individuals who have trouble accessing PCR testing.
All members of the community—students, staff, and faculty—are required to check for symptoms of illness before coming to campus or reporting to a off-campus facility.
If an employee or student experiences symptoms of illness consistent with COVID-19, they must report their illness through the COVID-19 Reporting Application so that a member of SWS can follow up as appropriate.
Individuals who are ill or experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must not come to campus or report for on-site work or study.
Isolation and Quarantine
Isolation of ill individuals is initiated to reduce or eliminate contact between an ill person and others, which reduces the spread of illness.
Quarantine of potentially exposed individuals is intended to distance from others an individual who has the potential to become infectious while actively monitoring that individual for symptoms and testing for the potential presence of disease. Caltech Housing offers quarantine and isolation space for individuals living in Caltech-managed housing who have either been exposed to COVID-19 or are exhibiting COVID-19-like symptoms.
Regular updates on the status of COVID-19 at Caltech are available through the Caltech COVID-19 Dashboard. You may also opt-in to receive timely email notifications of new positive COVID-19 cases among members of the campus community.