Q: What is the current guidance about testing?
A: According to guidance from the Virginia Department of Health and VCU Health science and medical experts, testing is recommended for individuals experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Q: Will VCU test symptomatic individuals? What will it cost?
A: Testing for those within the VCU community who are experiencing symptoms (both on-campus and off-campus) will be conducted by VCU Medical Center at accessible locations at no direct cost to students or employees. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and believe you need to be tested, call 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843 to be connected with Student Health Services or Employee Health Services. Students and employees must be referred for testing by Student Health Services or Employee Health Services.
Q: If I am asymptomatic, can I get tested? Is there a cost?
A: Yes, VCU offers a limited number of "at-will" testing appointments. For more information about when to get tested, vist www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/testing/diagnostic-testing.html#who-should-get-tested. For information about testing sites in Virginia visit www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/covid-19-testing-sites/.
Q: How will VCU monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community?
A: Asymptomatic surveillance testing (previously referred to as prevalence testing) targets, as set by our Public Health Response Team, are up to approximately 5 percent of residential students and up to approximately 2 percent of all other community members per month. This testing will be at no cost. The scope and focus of surveillance testing may be updated throughout the year based on guidance from public health and infectious disease experts.
Q: Does VCU test wastewater to detect the presence of COVID-19 in residence halls?
A: Wastewater testing is unlikely to change our current mitigation strategies. The PHRT is confident that the mandatory surveillance testing throughout the spring semester will meet VCU's needs for surveillance. The team already has the capability to detect disease relatively quickly without having to take this measure.
Q: Who must participate in asymptomatic surveillance testing?
A: Asymptomatic surveillance testing (previously referred to as "prevalence" testing) is mandatory for residential students, students who attend on-campus classes and employees who come to campus to work — including employees who are designated as hybrid on-campus/telework. The decision to start classes virtually does not impact this requirement. Students should check the revised Schedule of Classes as of Jan. 22 to determine the modality of their courses — if the schedule indicates that a course will resume in-person or hybrid once VCU returns to in-person, the student will be required to participate in the testing. Employees designated as telework, who solely work remotely, are not part of the surveillance testing pool. If you have questions about your work designation, please contact your supervisor or HR professional. VCU samples asymptomatic VCU community members for testing each week in order to monitor COVID-19 within the VCU community. If you are selected to participate, you will receive an email from firstname.lastname@example.org that includes instructions for setting up your Kallaco portal, links to available appointment slots and other information to help you prepare for your COVID-19 test. If you are selected to participate, you must schedule your test and attend your testing appointment.
Q: What kind of test is used?
A: Currently we use nasal PCRswab tests to conduct surveillance testing. These are designed to collect samples from the nasal walls of the nostril and are not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab test which collects samples from deep within the nasal cavity. PCR tests are the most reliable COVID-19 tests.
Q: When will surveillance testing occur?
A: Surveillance testing began in August 2020 and will continue for the foreseeable future.
Q: Who conducts the test?
A: Testing is conducted by VCU Health System clinicians. VCU and VCU Health System partnered with Kallaco, a software company that helps community members monitor test results.
Q: Who will analyze surveillance testing data?
A: VCU’s Public Health Response Team will analyze surveillance testing data alongside Employee Health and Student Health Services reports and guidance from the CDC, VDH and VCU Health. This information will inform decisions about VCU operations.
Q: What if I am unable to make my appointment or I need to reschedule?
A: Once you have scheduled an appointment, you can reschedule for a different time during the same week by clicking the reschedule link in your appointment email confirmation or the appointment scheduling link you received in the invitation email.
Q: I have been instructed to quarantine or am in isolation. Should I still attend my appointment?
A: No, you should not attend your surveillance testing appointment if you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been instructed to quarantine or are in isolation.
Q: If I participated in surveillance testing, how would I receive my test results?
A: The invitation email includes instructions for setting up your Kallaco account, signing a consent form prior to being tested, and accessing your test results when they are available. Your test results will be posted to your account approximately four business after the test has been conducted. You should monitor your account until your results are posted.
Q: What if my test results are positive?
A: If your test results are positive, immediately report your positive test by calling the VCU COVID-19 call center at 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843. More information about the reporting process is found in the Public Health Measures section of this website.
Q: What is entry testing?
A: Entry testing refers to testing students prior to their return to campus.
Q: Who must participate in entry testing?
A: Entry testing is required for residential students.
Q: How are residential students tested prior to their return to campus?
A: Residential students are mailed personal testing kits prior to their return to campus. The kit contains instructions for how to conduct personal testing and mail samples to a lab for analysis. Students are also given instructions for how to receive test results.
Q: What kind of tests are mailed to students for entry testing?
A: In the fall, testing kits contained an oropharyngeal swab test that students self-administered. Prior to spring semester move-in, VCU will again require entry testing for residential students. The university is evaluating options for test kits and lab partners for spring entry testing, however kits will likely contain nasal swab PCR tests, designed to be self-administered and collect samples from the nasal walls of the nostril. These are not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab test which collects samples from deep within the nasal cavity. PCR tests are the most reliable COVID-19 tests and are the same type of test used for VCU's asymptomatic surveillance, at-will and exit testing.
Q: What do students do between taking the test and coming to campus?
A: Between taking the test and returning to campus, students should minimize contact with others as much as possible. When contact with others takes place, students must practice safe behaviors and follow all the established public safety measures including wearing a face covering, practicing physical distancing, and hand washing.
Q: What should students do if they test positive for COVID-19?
A: Students who test positive for COVID-19, whether through entry testing or otherwise, must not come to campus and must contact Student Health Services by calling 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843.
Q: Who is eligible?
A: Any asymptomatic student or employee can participate in at-will testing, except those who already have a scheduled COVID-19 test as part of the asymptomatic surveillance testing process. At-will testing does not require a referral from Student Health Services or Employee Health Services.
If you are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you are not eligible for at-will testing and must contact Student Health Services or Employee Health (1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843) for more information about testing options.
Q: Is there a charge?
A: No, testing is available for free on a first come, first-served basis to VCU students and employees.
Q: What kind of test is used?
A: Tests are nasal swab PCR tests, designed to collect samples from the nasal walls of the nostril. These are not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab test which collects samples from deep within the nasal cavity. PCR tests are the most reliable COVID-19 tests.
Q: I scheduled an appointment but am now experiencing symptoms or was recently exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?
A: You should cancel your appointment and call Student Health Services or Employee Health Services (1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843) to discuss your testing options. You may cancel your appointment at any point before the day of your booking by clicking on the cancel/reschedule button in the appointment confirmation email. Questions? Email email@example.com.
Q: What if my test results are positive?
A: If your test results are positive, immediately report your positive test by calling the VCU COVID-19 call center at 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843. Refer to the Public Health Measures section of this website for more information about the reporting process.
Q: Is there a limit to how many appointments I can make?
A: Yes. At-will testing appointments are limited. To offer appointments to as many VCU community members as possible, you may only make one at-will testing appointment each month. If you need COVID-19 testing due to exposure or if you are experiencing symptoms, connect with Student Health Services or Employee Health to discuss your options for testing (call 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843).