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Health Guidance FAQ for Faculty and Supervisors Regarding Ill Supervisees

If a member of the Caltech campus shares with you a doctor's note, disclosure of test results, direct communications between doctor and patient, or any other personal health information with you, do not forward or disclose this information to anyone else, with the following exceptions:

  • If the PHI is regarding a faculty or staff member, postdoctoral scholar, or affiliate, please immediately call the Disability and Leave Unit within Caltech Human Resources at 626-395-3092 for assistance in how to handle these records in a way that is consistent with privacy guidelines.
  • If the PHI is regarding a Caltech student, please immediately call Student Wellness Services at 626-395-6393 for assistance in how to handle these records in a way that is consistent with privacy guidelines.

Inquiries will receive a response within 24 hours. Both the Disability and Leave Unit and Student Wellness Services will work the Pasadena Public Health Department and the individuals directly impacted by each situation.

Supervisors managing a student who reports a respiratory illness should notify the relevant division chairs and Student Wellness Services at 626-395-6393.

Supervisions who have a faculty or staff member, postdoctoral fellow, or affiliate reporting respiratory illness should notify the relevant division chairs and the Disability and Leave Unit.

Once notified, Student Wellness Services or the Disability and Leave unit will contact Jennifer Howes (Executive Director of Student Wellness Services) and John Tsai (Medical Director of Student Wellness Services and liaison to the Pasadena Public Health Department) to enable coordination of the campus response with the public health department.

Any member of the Caltech community who becomes ill with respiratory symptoms should immediately return home, or, if already there, stay home and practice self-care and monitoring of symptoms. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) has issued guidance for self-care measures, which should be used for individuals with mild illness.

Caltech students who are working on campus and are ill or become ill with a respiratory illness are instructed to immediately notify their supervisor, as well as Student Wellness Services at 626-395-6393. Student Wellness Services will monitor the student and communicate with relevant parties about public health related concerns, as appropriate.

Caltech employees who are ill or become ill with a respiratory illness should immediately notify their supervisor, who should in turn communicate with the Disability and Leave unit at 626-395-3092 for further guidance. As a reminder please do not ask for any specific information about the individual's health or medical condition.

If symptoms worsen (difficulty breathing, dehydration, can't keep fluids down, confusion, or other serious symptoms), non-student individuals should contact their primary care provider or urgent care by phone to determine next steps.

If symptoms are severe or life-threatening, call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room. For on-campus emergencies, call Campus Security at 626-395-5000; they will direct emergency medical personnel to the specific location.

Individuals recovering from illness should consult with their supervisor and, if a non-student, Human Resources regarding a plan to return to work. In general, individuals should remain home until a minimum of 7 days after the onset of symptoms and should be fever-free for 72 hours without medication, as well as see improvements in other symptoms prior to returning to work.

Testing for COVID-19 is becoming more widely available; however, access varies quite considerably within the greater Los Angeles and Pasadena areas. The LACDPH strongly advises against testing asymptomatic individuals, as well as those who report mild respiratory illnesses that can be managed at home. These measures are in place to preserve critical personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies as well as reduce potential exposure to healthcare workers during specimen collection. LACDPH recommends that health care providers test only persons with symptoms compatible with COVID-19 where a diagnostic result will change clinical management or inform public health response.

Testing for Students: Caltech Student Wellness Services contracts with LabCorp for COVID-19 testing. Specimen collection occurs at a testing site on campus; specimens are then sent to a LabCorp processing facility. No specimen processing or test protocols are conducted by Caltech. Specimen collection is currently available for Caltech students who meet clinical criteria for testing.

Testing for Faculty, Staff, Postdoctoral Scholars, and Affiliates: Non-students are directed to their primary care provider for testing unless there is a suspected illness in a non-student community member (faculty and staff members, postdoctoral fellows, and affiliates) that would have significant public health implications for the campus. Such community members might include a Caltech health care provider who is ill, or an ill staff member who had some potential contact with others on campus while supporting the critical services that remain operational.

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, appropriate measures will be taken to notify close contacts as well as faculty or supervisors for further assistance with contact tracing and liaison work with the Pasadena Public Health Department.

If a staff or faculty member, postdoctoral scholar, or affiliate tests positive for COVID-19, that individual should report the positive test results to the Disability and Leave Unit, which will in turn initiate contact tracing and liaison work with the Pasadena Public Health Department.

If any member of the Caltech campus comes in close contact (within 6 feet for 10 or more minutes, or prolonged contact of common spaces even if staying 6 feet apart) with a person exhibiting respiratory symptoms they should self-quarantine at home for 14 days from the time of exposure to monitor for symptoms. The individual in self-quarantine should immediately notify their supervisor, who in turn will communicate with Student Wellness Services or the Disability and Leave Unit.

Any positive test for COVID-19 should be reported to Student Wellness Services or the Disability and Leave Unit, which will coordinate with Student Health Services medical director Dr. John Tsai, Facilities, and Environmental Health and Safety to initiate a protocol for cleaning and disinfecting affected physical spaces in consultation with the cognizant division chair or supervisor. Until cleaning and disinfection is complete, the space should be closed and secured, and access prohibited.

The division chair, faculty member, and/or laboratory manager may have specific recommendations, precautions, or considerations for the cleaning and disinfecting of sensitive laboratory spaces; these discussions will involve the relevant partners within the Facilities and Environmental Health and Safety units.

Caltech faculty and staff members, students, postdoctoral fellows, or affiliates who used or accessed the affected space(s) will be notified of any relevant facts regarding the public health implications and asked to quarantine at home for 14 days from the date of exposure, and self-monitor for symptoms.