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12/29/2021 - Expanded testing requirements for graduate students

To: Caltech Graduate Students

From: David C. Chan, Dean of Graduate Studies

In response to the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases associated with the Omicron variant, the Caltech administration sent messages on December 22 (/updates/general/12222021) and December 29 (/updates/general/12292021), detailing a set of preventive measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19 on our campus.

I am writing to clarify how these new measures directly affect graduate students. The changes include a narrow window for students arriving for the Winter term, and new testing requirements.

1) Graduate students living in Caltech housing:

You are expected to arrive on campus by January 4, with a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to your arrival. Students in Caltech housing have already been participating in the surveillance testing program, and you will be required to continue surveillance testing and submit 3 samples, 48 hours apart, before the anticipated start of in-person instruction on January 10. These samples are required by January 4, 6, and 8.

  • Students arriving after January 4 will be required to indicate their arrival date on the online form (https://caltechhousing.wufoo.com/forms/k1ua021t05lh9nx/) and present a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours prior to arrival. Additional information on late arrivals will be discussed in a separate communication.

2) Graduate students taking an in-person class:

You will now be required to undergo surveillance testing (2 samples per week), regardless of whether you reside in Caltech or off-campus housing.

Please note the following surveillance testing policies (/cases-testing-and-tracing/covid-19-testing#on-campus-surveillance-testing-program):

  • Sample tubes must be filled halfway with saliva, and capped tightly.
  • After January 10, samples must be dropped off Monday-Thursday, between 9 am and 4 pm at any of the four collection boxes across campus. Collection boxes are not open on Friday.
  • Your two samples must be submitted 48 hours or more apart from each other (e.g. submitted Monday and Wednesday, Monday and Thursday, or Tuesday and Thursday).

As detailed above in (1), 3 samples are required before the anticipated start of in-person instruction on January 10. The testing requirement of 2 samples per week will continue throughout the term.

Please note that this requirement represents a significant expansion of the student cohort required to participate in surveillance testing. It is important that new participants promptly pick up their testing package upon arrival for the Winter Term. Kits may be picked up between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday at the former Tech Express location (Lloyd 107, on the Olive Walk). No advance registration is required.

The only graduate students exempt from surveillance testing are those who are not taking in-person classes (i.e., research units only) and living off-campus. Students are exempt only if both conditions apply.

I appreciate that these significant changes go into effect rapidly. Please understand that the upsurge in infection numbers necessitates a prompt response to further protect our community. Thank you for your understanding and compliance with these new policies. Questions regarding the changes can be sent to Winterreturn22@caltech.edu.

Best wishes,

David