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Isolation and Quarantine Policy

Updated May 16, 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, must isolate and report to the COVID-19 Management Team via the COVID-19 Reporting Application

Isolation may end after Day 5 (i.e., between Day 6-10) if both of the following criteria are met: 

  1. You have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medicine); and
  2. Other symptoms are not present, or symptoms are mild and improving. 

The Pasadena Public Health Department strongly recommends that an individual test negative for COVID-19 prior to ending isolation between Day 6 and 10. This would reduce the chance of infecting another person with COVID-19.

If you meet the criteria to leave isolation after Day 5, you must continue to wear a mask up until Day 10. You may remove your mask sooner than Day 10 if you have two sequential negative tests, at least one day apart. 

If you meet the criteria above, SWS will release you from isolation on Day 6 or after. Isolation begins either on the onset date of symptoms or the confirmed positive test date – whichever comes first. Therefore, it is essential that students report symptoms immediately and employees conduct a personal health screening before coming to work.

You cannot return to Caltech Facilities until you are cleared by the COVID-19 Management Team. They will send you an official isolation release via the SWS secure portal.

For isolation release outside of Caltech facilities, please follow your local public health department guidelines.

Feeling Ill

For students:

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 in your room and or residence; If you must leave, please wear a well-fitted (N95, KN95) mask, when around others.
  3. You will be offered a Covid-19 test at the student health center. Please check your student portal for a testing notification.
  4. Inform your professor (s) of any absences from class or lab.

For employees:

Employees must notify their supervisor of any absences from work due to illness. It is highly recommended that they take a COVID test prior to returning to work. They may return to campus once symptoms have resolved and they have tested negative for COVID-19.

Exposed to COVID-19

A "close contact" is 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). 

As long as you remain asymptomatic, you may resume normal activity. CMT (the Covid Management Team) will not send you a separate guidance. Additionally, you must:

  1. Use a well fitted (N95, KN95) mask both 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 3-5 days after your last exposure. You can test with an at- home test or test in the community (i.e., pharmacy, testing site etc.). There is no need to inform CMT (COVID-19 Management Team) of negative test results.
  3. Self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 10 days from the date you were last exposed.


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.