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8/01/2022 - Summer Surveillance Testing

To:       Graduate Students in Residence

From:   Kevin Gilmartin, Vice President for Student Affairs

David Chan, Dean of Graduate Studies

Date:   August 1, 2022

Re:       Summer Surveillance Testing

As the highly contagious BA.5 strain of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 continues to pose significant challenges in Los Angeles County, and throughout the United States, it is critical that our community exercise appropriate care and continue to follow Institute health and safety policies.

With that in mind, we are troubled by a downward trend in compliance with surveillance testing requirements among some graduate students who reside in Caltech housing, a trend that goes back to late spring term and that has continued this summer. We write to remind you that all graduate students who live in Caltech housing must submit samples twice a week to the Institute's surveillance testing program. Students who fail to comply with this requirement risk contributing to an increase in community transmission, particularly among residential students and staff who are associated with Institute housing.

We want to reaffirm that students who repeatedly fail to comply with the twice-weekly surveillance testing requirement will lose their housing assignment. In conjunction with the campus surveillance testing program and Student Wellness Services, the Graduate Studies Office will continue to monitor compliance among graduate students in residence. While students who fail to test will receive an appropriate initial warning, given the current climate of increased community infection rates and inconsistent compliance, we will move more directly to removing non-compliant students from our residential community.

We understand that some students may have valid reasons for missing tests in a particular week. Students who expect to be away from campus, and therefore unable to test, must record their absence with Student Wellness Services through an online form. (To complete this form, log into Google Workspace with your access.caltech credentials.) Notice from students who are unable to test because of travel has been an important element of the surveillance testing program, particularly for staff involved in managing compliance. Students are expected to record their absence in advance of travel. Issues or concerns not covered by this online form should be communicated in advance to gradofc@caltech.edu so they can be evaluated by the graduate deans.

As a reminder of surveillance testing policies and processes, please note the following:

  • Instructions for sample collection are available in English and in Spanish.
  • Sample tubes must be filled halfway with saliva and capped tightly. Do not eat or drink anything within 30 minutes prior to sample collection.
  • Samples must be dropped off at any of four collection boxes Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Samples must be submitted 48 hours or more apart (e.g., submitted Monday and Wednesday, Tuesday and Thursday, Wednesday, and Friday, etc.).

We appreciate your understanding of the importance of surveillance testing for students in residence, and welcome the continued compliance of those students required to test. If you have questions about any of the policies or processes reviewed in this letter, please contact Assistant Dean Natalie Gilmore (ngilmore@caltech.edu).

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.