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Isolation and Quarantine Policy

It is critical to the safety of the Caltech community that all individuals reporting to campus or an off-site Caltech facility notify Student Wellness Services (SWS) if they 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 measured resumption of regular activities in a way that balances community safety and respects individual routines.

In accordance with Los Angeles County Department of Health and Pasadena Public Health Department protocols for isolation and quarantine, SWS has adopted new guidelines for the management of reported illnesses. The following guidelines are effective as of November 9, 2020.

  1. If you have symptoms of illness and have received a positive, laboratory-confirmed test for COVID-19, you must make a report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application. If you are symptomatic, you must isolate per the health officer orders until:
    1. You have had no fever for at least 24 hours (without the use of medicine that reduces fevers) and
    2. Your respiratory symptoms have improved (for example, cough or shortness of breath) and
    3. At least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared.
  2. If you have had a positive, laboratory-confirmed test for COVID-19, but have never had any symptoms, you must make a report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application. You must isolate yourself for 10 days after the date your test was taken.
    1. However, if you develop symptoms while you are isolated, you must follow the instructions for individuals with COVID-19 symptoms (see above).
  3. If you have been exposed to someone with a positive, laboratory-confirmed test for COVID-19 (i.e., you were within six feet of that individual for a total of 15 minutes within a 24 hour period), you must make a report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application. You must also quarantine per the health officer orders for 14 days from the date of last exposure to the individual with a positive COVID-19 test.
    1. That 14-day quarantine should continue regardless of any negative test results you may receive. A negative test result does not shorten your quarantine since you could become ill any time during the 14-day incubation period. During this time, you could spread COVID-19, even if you do not have any symptoms or have only mild symptoms.
    2. If you develop symptoms of illness during your quarantine period, please contact SWS immediately; you must then isolate yourself according to the isolation instructions above until you are no longer at risk of spreading disease to others.
  4. If you have symptoms of illness, you must make a report to SWS via the COVID-19 Reporting Application. A medical provider will contact you to evaluate your circumstances and arrange for a COVID-19 test.
    1. If you have symptoms of illness but have received a negative PCR test for COVID-19, you may be cleared by SWS to return to work upon resolution of your symptoms without completing a standard 10-day isolation period. You must respond to the outreach of the SWS medical provider managing your case; this individual will evaluate your symptoms and provide clearance to return to work based on symptom-resolution criteria (i.e., you must be fever-free for 24 hours without medication and must have improving or resolved symptoms).
  5. If you have been exposed (within six feet for a total of 15 minutes within a 24-hour period) to someone who has reported an illness but has not otherwise had a laboratory-confirmed test that was positive for COVID-19, you will be offered SARS-CoV-2 testing and asked to practice quarantine procedures pending further information about the index case.
    1. If the index case has a negative PCR test for COVID-19, you will be released from quarantine and may resume regular activities immediately.
    2. If your test results are negative, but the index case tests positive, you will be subject to the quarantine restrictions described in bullet 3 above.
    3. If your test results are positive, you will be subject to the isolation restrictions described in either bullet 1 or bullet 2 above, depending on your specific situation.