Home  /  Resources  /  Policies and Guidance  /  Isolation and Quarantine Policy

Isolation and Quarantine Policy

Updated January 13, 2023

It is critical to the safety of the Caltech community that all individuals reporting to campus or an off-site Caltech facility notify the COVID-19 Management Team (CMT) at Student Wellness Services (SWS) if they test positive, develop symptoms of illness, or have a known exposure to someone with a positive test for COVID-19. Close adherence to this reporting practice is what allows the Institute to support the resumption of regular activities in a way that balances community safety and respects individual routines. The protocols for isolation, quarantine, and testing will be modified in response to local and national health orders, which were most recently updated in April 2022:

Isolation and quarantine


If you have tested positive for COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status, previous infection, or lack of symptoms, you must report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application and isolate until:

  1. You have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers); 
  2. Your respiratory symptoms (for example, cough or shortness of breath) have improved or ended;
  3. You have submitted your daily surveys through SWS's portal. These surveys are sent to individuals in isolation check on their symptoms.

If you meet the criteria above and have an official report of a negative, proctored (i.e., not self-administered) COVID-19 antigen test (from a specimen collected on Day 5 or later), SWS will release you from isolation on Day 6 or after. Isolation days will be calculated based on when an individual reports to Caltech or the confirmed positive test date – whichever comes first. Therefore, it is essential to report symptoms immediately. If you choose not to test out early, you cannot return to Caltech facilities until the tentative release date Caltech securely messages you. For isolation release outside of Caltech facilities, please follow your local public health department guidelines.

Feeling Ill

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, such as:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

You must:

  1. Report to SWS via the Covid-19 Reporting Application.
  2. Stay home until symptoms resolve and you test negative with a PCR test - You can test via the surveillance testing program on campus and or test at a community testing site near you.
  3. Inform your supervisor(s) and academic advisor(s) of any absences from work and or class. 

Exposed to COVID-19

If you are a close contact (defined as someone who shared the same indoor airspace (e.g., small classrooms, labs, offices) with a person diagnosed with COVID-19 for 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period (does not have to be consecutive)), you must report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application.

As long as you remain asymptomatic, you may resume normal activity. SWS CMT will not send you separate guidance. Additionally, you must:

  1. Use a well-fitted, high-quality mask indoors and outdoors for 10 days from your last contact with the infected person during their infectious period (48 hours prior to onset of their symptoms or a positive COVID-19 result). Please note that Day 0 is the day of your last contact/exposure with the infected person, and Day 1 is the first full day after your last exposure.
  2. Test on Day 3-5 after your last exposure. You can test through Caltech's surveillance testing program or test in the community. You do not need to send us your results.
  3. Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days from the date you were last exposed. We strongly recommend you to participate in Caltech's free surveillance testing program.


If you are a caregiver of a confirmed COVID-19 case, you may isolate with the positive case in your household, but it is not required. Please wear a well-fitted mask (N95, KN95) around the individual testing positive in your household and while out in the community for 10 days following last exposure. 

You are cleared to return to campus as long as you remain asymptomatic. Per public health guidelines, close contacts are required to follow the guidelines under "Exposed to COVID-19" above.

If you become symptomatic at any point, please stay home and follow both "Feeling Ill and "Exposed to COVID-19  guidelines above.