Testing

The screening and testing of the VCU community continues to evolve based on the availability and efficacy of viral testing protocols as well as guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Virginia Department of Health (VDH), the state and the VCU Health System.

It is important to note that testing is just one component of a comprehensive strategy to reduce transmission and will be conducted in conjunction with several other mitigating controls – promoting behaviors that reduce the spread of COVID-19, increased cleaning, contact tracing and daily health monitoring among others.

VCU offers symptomatic, asymptomatic surveillanceentry and at-will testing for VCU community members. Learn more about each type of testing below. You can also view frequently asked questions about testing.

Testing schedule through Jan. 24

With fewer students and employees on campus, VCU will reduce testing hours during the break. See the schedule below for details.

Jan. 4 - Jan. 24 (end of winter break through start of spring semester classes)

  • Symptomatic testing continues three days per week (Monday, Wednesday and Thursday) through Jan. 15. Asymptomatic surveillance testing and at-will testing sites are closed through Jan. 15.
  • Beginning Jan. 18, symptomatic testing increases to five days/week (Monday through Friday); and mandatory surveillance testing begins and asymptomatic surveillance and at-will testing sites reopen for four days/week (Monday through Thursday).
  • The re-entry testing process for spring residential move-in begins and runs through Jan. 15. Students will be mailed test kits home during this time. Students living on-campus will also be tested again prior to spring move-in.
  • Re-entry test results will come in during this time and pending a negative result, residential students will be able to schedule move-in dates.

Symptomatic testing

VCU community members (both on and off-campus) who report symptoms to either Student Health Services or Employee Health Services (1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843) may be referred for COVID-19 testing at a testing location on-campus. This will be conducted at no cost to students or employees.

Asymptomatic surveillance testing

Testing for the prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community will be conducted throughout the year to monitor the health of our community. This data will help identify trends and outbreaks, and to inform our actions going forward.

Beginning Jan. 19, 2021, asymptomatic surveillance testing (previously referred to as “prevalence” testing) will be mandatory for residential students, students who attend on-campus classes and employees who work on campus. VCU will contact you by email if and when you are selected to participate. If you are called to participate, you must schedule your test and attend your testing appointment.

Surveillance testing requires VCU to test a random sample of asymptomatic VCU community members monthly – approximately 5 percent of residential students and approximately 2 percent of non-residential students and employees. 

During the regular school year, testing takes place Monday through Thursday at the Capital Assets and Real Estate Building at 800 W. Broad St. on the Monroe Park Campus and at the Hunton Student Center at 1110 E. Broad St. on the MCV Campus. The test is conducted using nasal swabs, designed to collect samples from the nasal walls of the nostril. This is not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab test which collects samples from deep within the nasal cavity.

Note that in the fall 2020 semester, residential students were automatically enrolled in the asymptomatic testing pool, but the rest of the pool consisted of non-residential students and employees who volunteered to participate. The decision was made to make aysmptomatic testing mandatory for all students and employees who spend time on campus for the spring 2021 semester in order to ensure a large enough pool.

Entry testing

Entry testing refers to testing students prior to their return to campus. At this time the CDC does not recommend entry testing for the purpose of establishing that a particular population is free of COVID-19, citing the limited usefulness of a single administration of testing (single administration could miss cases in the early stages of infection or subsequent exposures resulting in transmission, and would only provide COVID-19 status for individuals at that specific point in time). However, to help mitigate COVID-19 positive individuals returning to campus housing, VCU tested all residential students prior to their return to campus this fall and will test them when they return for the spring semester. This purpose and approach is consistent with current CDC guidance on the use of testing to determine whether any additional actions are needed based on test results.

Note that for the spring 2021 semester, entry test kits will contain saliva-based PCR tests approved for self-administration. Saliva tests are easy and comfortable to perform and do not require a clinician to administer. 

More details about spring entry testing are available on the Residential Life and Housing website.

At-will testing

A limited number of “at-will” COVID-19 testing appointments are available on a first-come, first served basis Monday through Thursday for VCU students and employees as long as they are asymptomatic, have not been exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 and do not already have a scheduled test as part of the asymptomatic surveillance testing process. At-will testing is voluntary and will be offered at no cost.

Testing is conducted by VCU Health System clinicians and takes less than 10 minutes. The tests are conducted using nasal swabs, designed to collect samples from the nasal walls of the nostril. This is not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab test which collects samples from deep within the nasal cavity. VCU Health System and VCU partnered with Kallaco, a software company that provides you access to your test results, which should be available within 4 business days.

Click here for an appointment and testing locations. Note that walk-ins are not permitted, and appointments must be made a week in advance. Once you schedule an appointment, you will receive an email with instructions on what you need to do before the appointment as well as what to bring.