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Keeping Residence Halls Safe: Regular Testing

October 13, 2020
To: 
Students
From: 
Liz Magill, J.J. Davis and Mitch Rosner

Dear Students in University Housing:

As you know, we are using a variety of COVID-19 population testing methods in our shared effort to protect the health and safety of our community this semester.  Along with asymptomatic prevalence testing for students living off-Grounds, we have been selecting particular residence halls for testing based on a combination of wastewater analysis and data about positive cases.  

We are now going to shift to a pattern of testing all students in University housing on a regular basis, at least once every nine days. People can be infected with COVID before they feel ill or begin to show symptoms. Transmission can occur unnoticed and can spread when people live together.  Regular testing will help identify asymptomatic students in residence halls before the virus has a chance to spread widely.

Occupants of each residence hall will be tested as a group, with the exception that a few large buildings will be tested over multiple days. Residence halls will alternate between testing with mid-nasal swabs (similar to Let’s Get Checked) and saliva screenings. You will receive an email from UVA Prevalence Testing (prevalence-test@virginia.edu) with information about your testing appointment, including the time, day, location, and testing method.  A few other things to keep in mind:

  • Testing is mandatory.  If you have an unavoidable conflict (such as class), please follow the instructions in the testing appointment email to reschedule. 
  • If you are in isolation or quarantine at the time of your testing appointment, you should not leave to be tested.  Please follow the instructions in the email to cancel your appointment. 
  • If you have had a positive COVID test through Student Health, Let’s Get Checked, UVA Health, or an outside test that you have submitted through the Healthy Hoos Patient Portal, you should not be tested again for 90 days from the date of your positive test.  Please follow the instructions in the email to cancel your appointment.
  • Students with qualifying disability-related conditions may contact the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC) via email (sdac@virginia.edu) or phone (434-243-5180) to seek accommodations related to this testing requirement.  

Results will generally be available in 24-48 hours. Students with positive test results will need to isolate; they will be contacted directly to discuss next steps and answer questions. The University will provide isolation housing, meals, and other support.  The Virginia Department of Health will immediately begin contact tracing for any positive cases.

Again, the goal of these testing efforts is to identify and contain the virus before transmission can occur in the residence halls.  In case there is any question, we want to make it completely clear that students will not be subject to disciplinary action for a positive test result or for any information disclosed as part of contact tracing. 

Finally, we want to acknowledge that even though the testing process is quick – it should take less than 10 minutes – it may not always be convenient for you.  We appreciate your participation and your patience.  Testing is an important way to help identify and contain infections, and an important way to help us remain on Grounds, together.  

Sincerely, 

Liz Magill
Provost

J.J. Davis
Chief Operating Officer

Mitch Rosner, MD, MACP
Henry B. Mulholland Professor of Medicine 
Chair, Department of Medicine 
Chief Medical Advisor, UVA COVID-19 Response