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Student Wellness Services  /  Health  /  Building the Bubble - Returning to Campus

Building the Bubble: Strategy Explained

January 03, 2022
Building the Bubble

Read more about Student Arrival and Testing Requirements on the Caltech Together website.

Coming on Campus:

The goal: No known COVID+ students entering campus

Once on Campus:

  • Mask (KN95, N95), distancing precautions
  • Quarantine in residence for the first week
    • Why: The latency period from exposure to a COVID+ test is 5-7days
  • Begin the 3-Surveillance test series:
    • Test by: Jan 4, 6, 8
    • Whether or not you are a resident, everyone in classes on campus MUST participate
  • Reduce activity for the first 2 weeks on campus
    • Why: The incubation period of COVID is up to 14 days
    • Anyone returning to campus has the potential to burst the bubble by spreading COVID before they are identified by a week of surveillance tests

The goal: Any unknown COVID is identified and caught before spread

The reason: Boosted individuals have milder disease and shed less virus

We can Build the Bubble if our entire Caltech community:

  • Is invested
  • Minimizes contact
  • Participates in surveillance testing
  • Reports symptoms to access.caltech.edu

The goal of Building the Bubble is to return quickly and definitively to a healthy, thriving winter quarter of in-person classes and responsibly curated social activities.

Remember: Critical Mass is needed to Build the Bubble

COVID Incubation Timeline


Questions & Answers: Returning to Campus

A: No, if you arrive at Caltech with an Antigen test kit, you are exposing the registration/housing people needlessly since they aren't authorized to supervise you doing this test.

A: Even with a negative test, the incubation period of COVID means that you may not be aware that you are a carrier and are infectious because your viral load isn't high enough to trigger a test yet.

A: Yes, building the bubble only works if everyone buys into this process.

A: While we rebuild the bubble, we have to restrict venues that are impossible to contact trace.

A: Our goal is to quickly build the bubble this week of return and remote instruction so that we can resume regular on-campus life and in-person instruction within the next few weeks.

A: No, we need critical mass of everyone here to rebuild the bubble. Every time new people enter the bubble, they need to shelter in place until their week of surveillance tests is negative.

A: Our priority is returning to on-campus life and in-person instruction. Our commitment is to conduct in-person instruction as much as possible, especially since this is necessary for some classes and labs. Our goal is to safely return to masked students enjoying campus life at the gym, Red Door, in residences. We envision returning to masked outdoor social activities.

A: The decision was made to give the individual departments the freedom to make these decisions due to the unique characteristics of each class- the number of students, the type of room, the activities and requirements of the class, etc.

A: If we had wanted to save ourselves a lot of trouble, we would have just delayed the start of the semester or started with only remote instruction with no instructions to return to campus. We brought everyone back to build the bubble to make on-campus in-person life possible again safely.

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