COVID-19 Testing and Screening

[Last updated November 3]

Students will be tested (1) upon campus arrival, (2) if they have symptoms that suggest COVID-19, (3) as part of regular testing of subgroups of students, and (4) if they are identified as close contacts of an infected person and testing is recommended by public health officers.

We have discontinued our random surveillance testing in favor of a modified universal testing in which each student is tested twice during the six-week in-residence portion of Module 2 (i.e. once every three weeks). 

We have also altered our testing protocol regarding our response to a residence hall’s wastewater sample testing positive for COVID-19. A positive wastewater test result will only lead to unexpected testing and quarantine if the viral load, and other considerations, suggest that the risk of viral spread is significant enough to warrant quarantining and testing individuals to identify potential positives.


See below for answers to the following questions:

If you have a question that is not answered below, please submit it here.

Will students be tested for COVID-19 when they arrive on campus? What will be expected of students after they are tested?

Yes. Students were tested and quarantined in their rooms until their test results were received. Students were then tested again a week after their initial arrival on campus. Thereafter, the College is following public health guidelines with a focus on continued daily screening and education regarding their pledge to the community and other protocols (masks, physical distancing, cleaning, surveillance testing, contact tracing, etc.) to support the safety of our campus.

Learn more about how students will receive meals during the initial quarantine period.

What testing provider is the College using and what is their testing procedure? What is the estimated turnaround time for test results?

F&M has contracted with the Broad Institute to meet the College’s COVID-19 testing needs. With this partnership, there is ample ability to perform testing on campus.

  • Tests are performed on-site at F&M. The anterior nasal swab tests are administered by a medical professional in accordance with manufacturer guidelines and in accordance with FDA approved collection devices.

  • Collected specimens are expeditiously shipped (estimated one-day shipping) to the Broad Institute in Massachusetts to be processed.

  • We anticipate testing results to be received between 48 and 72 hours. Should there be a delay in testing results, quarantine will take longer.

  • Individual results are communicated privately. Individuals with positive results are contacted by a medical group via phone.

F&M has also contracted with Aegis Science Corporation as a backup testing processor when the College needs to conduct additional surveillance testing in response to high-risk situations.

Can students get tested prior to arrival on campus so that they do not need to quarantine while waiting for results?

No. Students were not able to get tested prior to arrival on campus since there is risk of exposure while traveling to F&M. Students were tested upon their arrival on campus.

Will employees also be tested for COVID-19 by the College’s testing provider before returning to work on campus?

Yes. All F&M employees were required to get tested for COVID-19. This initial test was offered by F&M’s testing provider and was at the expense of the College.

Employees working on campus will also be invited to participate in the weekly testing. There will be approximately 100 slots available for employees in each round of weekly testing during Module 2. Randomly selected individuals will receive an invitation from HR. Employee participation is voluntary.

How will students and employees receive their test results? 

Students and employees will receive their test results via email from the Broad Institute. Please watch for emails from or from

Copy the registration code provided and follow the link to register. You will enter your F&M email and registration code on the following page. Follow the instructions to create an account. You will receive a second email with another confirmation code and link to complete registration. Once you’ve done so, log in using your F&M email address and the password you just created. You will then see a table with the headings “Collected,” “Reported,” and “Provider.” Click on this table to view your results.

Please also note that if a student or employee has a positive test result indicating infection, they will receive a phone call notifying them of this and providing additional resources and information. This phone call will likely show as coming from an unknown number, but the caller will leave a voicemail and identify themself as coming from PWNHealth. For more information on what to do if you receive a positive test result, please review the College's protocol for students who think they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19, which includes information for students who have tested positive.

Will the baseline COVID-19 testing conducted upon arrival to campus be free to students? Will the school’s health insurance cover COVID-19 testing and illness thereafter?

The baseline COVID-19 testing conducted when students and employees first arrived on campus was at the College’s expense.

Thereafter, our student health plan covers COVID-19 testing and illness if the test is deemed “medically necessary” due to contact with an infected individual or being suspected of being COVID-19 positive. Any expenses for treatment would be covered following the plan’s details, including any deductible. The definition of “medically necessary” can vary across insurance companies. Our presumption is that other health plans will cover such expenses per their usual protocols.

What will be the COVID-19 testing protocols at F&M after move-in?

Following multiple discussions and in accordance with guidance from the CDC and ACHA, F&M adopted the following testing protocols:

  • Test all students living in on-campus housing, off-campus housing, and commuting from home when they first arrive on campus and then approximately one week later; test all employees resuming work on campus.

  • Test students: 

    • (1) via clinical testing at the Student Wellness Center if they have symptoms that suggest COVID-19, 

    • (2) as part of regular testing of subgroups of students. During Module 2, all students are tested at least twice, and

    • (3) if they are identified as close contacts of an infected person and testing is recommended by public health officers.

  • Encourage faculty and staff to seek testing from their personal health care providers if they (1) have symptoms that suggest COVID-19, or (2) are identified as close contacts of an infected person and testing is recommended by public health officers. Employees working on campus will also have the option of participating in regular testing during Module 2; there will be approximately 100 spots available for employees each week. Randomly selected individuals will receive an invitation from HR. Employee participation is voluntary. 

  • Test wastewater for presence of the virus at six sites associated with on-campus residences: Bonchek College House (South Ben), Brooks College House (Marshall/Buchanan), New College House, Thomas Hall, Ware College House (North Ben), and Weis College House

What is surveillance testing?

According to ACHA, "Surveillance systems should detect the emergence and spread of infection within the general community and within specific campus populations” through the periodic testing of a sample of randomly selected asymptomatic students or higher risk groups. Testing of symptomatic students also contributes to overall surveillance data and helps the College estimate the prevalence of COVID-19 in the community.

The College has discontinued our random surveillance testing in favor of a modified universal testing in which each student is tested twice, once every three weeks, during the six-week in-residence portion of Module 2.

What does modified universal testing of students mean?

Each week, we will test approximately 500 students, roughly half on Monday and half on Tuesday. We will divide the student body into three groups and will test each group every three weeks on the following dates:

  • Group A will test during week 1 (Oct. 12 and 13) and week 4 (Nov. 2 and 3)

  • Group B will test during week 2 (Oct. 19 and 20) and week 5 (Nov. 9 and 10)

  • Group C will test during week 3 (Oct. 26 and 27) and week 6 (Nov. 16 and 17)

Will students and employees on campus be required to conduct daily self-screenings?

All students and employees learning or working on campus are required to complete a daily self-screening, where they self-monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. This is done through a daily health screening service. All current employees and any students who are permitted to be on campus this fall receive a daily message via email (and text message, if you provide a cell number). This message asks them to complete the daily health screening.

If you live off-campus and don’t anticipate being on campus (for example, your classes are remote that day), the very first question lets you indicate that you won't be here today. Simply select “No” and you won't be asked any additional questions, but you will be told that you aren't authorized to be on campus today, both with text and a large red “X” icon.

Thus, if you do anticipate being on campus or even think you might be on campus, select “Yes.” You will be asked standard COVID-19-related, personal health screening questions and will receive an authorization to be on campus today (signified by text and a large green checkmark icon), or you will be directed to other health resources should your answers suggest you are not feeling well. However, as a reminder, the health screening authorization is only valid if you have been tested for COVID-19; you are not permitted to interact on campus, enter campus facilities, or attend in-person classes until you have completed the testing and quarantine protocol.

Please note that you will receive this health screening email daily. When you get an indicator that you should not come to campus due to symptoms or because you have indicated you do not intend to come to campus, that certification is for just the current day. This daily health screening is meant to prompt you to think about those you have been in contact with and any symptoms you may be experiencing to guide you in your planning for only that current day. 

What should students and employees do if their self-screening indicates they may be exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19? 

If a student or employee completes the self-screening and identifies that they are experiencing one or more symptoms, they should follow the College's protocol for students who think they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19. This protocol includes information on what to do if students experience symptoms outside of Student Wellness Center hours. Employees exhibiting symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. 

What should students and employees do if they develop symptoms after they have arrived on campus?

It is possible that symptoms may develop after a student or employee has already arrived on campus. In this case, students experiencing symptoms should immediately contact the Student Wellness Center, which will help them complete a medical evaluation and determine whether to perform a COVID-19 test. If an employee develops symptoms during the day, they should alert their supervisor, return home, and contact their primary care provider.

What should students do if they test positive for COVID-19?

Information on what students should do if they test positive for COVID-19 is included as part of the College's protocol for students who think they may have been exposed to, or are experiencing symptoms of, COVID-19. 

What is contact tracing? Will the College use contact tracing?

According to the CDC, “Case investigation and contact tracing, a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel for decades, is a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.”

Contact tracing occurs when a person tests positive or is under suspicion for COVID-19 and is asked about any people with whom they have been in close contact within the 48 hours prior to the start of their symptoms or, if asymptomatic, the time at which they were tested for COVID-19. 

The Student Wellness Center is doing contact tracing on all students who either test positive or are symptomatic and awaiting test results. If a student presents to the Student Wellness Center that they are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, that individual will go into isolation pending test results and we will begin contact tracing at that time.

If the Student Wellness Center learns of a student who is symptomatic and sought care elsewhere or finds out that a student tested positive elsewhere, the same process will apply from the time in which the Student Wellness Center is made aware.

Close Contact

The College uses the CDC's definition of a close contact for its contact tracing protocol.

Close Contact Testing and Quarantine

Students who have been found to be “contacts” will need to quarantine for 14 days from the last encounter with the positive or suspected positive individual. Location of quarantine could vary depending on the student's ability to go home and their current living situation on or around campus.

If you identified as a contact, there is no need to complete testing unless you would become symptomatic or other risk factors are identified. Contacts who do develop symptoms during quarantine must be tested and should seek medical attention. If you receive a negative test, you still need to complete the 14-day quarantine. A negative test does not completely rule out infection due to the potential 14-day incubation period. Individual names of students who test positive or are under suspicion for infection will not be released to contacts.

Contacts of Contacts

If you discover you have been in contact with a person who was identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive, you would fall into the category of being a contact of a contact.  Based on current recommendations, there is no need to quarantine. You should continue to practice physical distancing and mask wearing, but otherwise you can go about your business as normal.

It is imperative that, should you be identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive or is under suspicion for COVID-19, you be honest and fully cooperate with the process. This is vital to decreasing the potential spread of the virus.