When Should I Get Tested?

  • September 4th, 2020

A man is being tested for COVID-19.

The University of Alabama has implemented a testing program to help keep campus open and students, faculty and staff safe. But when should an individual be tested for COVID-19?

Testing at UA is conducted in five different circumstances:

  • Requirement for initial return to campus – All students, faculty and staff returning to campus in any capacity must be tested. Faculty and staff who continue to work remotely, as well as distance learning students who will not be on campus this fall, need not be tested at this time, but must be tested before returning to campus.
  • Symptomatic individuals – Testing is provided for those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, which include cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain or body aches, new loss of taste or smell, unexplained headache, sore throat, nausea and diarrhea. Severe symptoms include trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in chest, bluish lips or face, new confusion, or the inability to wake or stay awake.
  • Possible exposure – Testing may be provided for those who think they’ve been exposed to the virus. Exposure means being within 6 feet, for more than 15 minutes, of someone who might have COVID-19 and with either person not wearing a face mask. Those who suspect exposure should reach out to the UA COVID-19 Support Program at 205-348-2819 for guidance prior to being tested.
  • Sentinel testing – Sentinel testing is done to examine how the virus is behaving within the campus community. The campus targets collecting a random sample of around 3% of the campus community selected to participate in the test each week. The Verily Group is assisting by handling notification to those selected. Sentinel testing is required for students who live on campus, participate in club sports, are members of a student organization holding meetings with more than 10 people, or are participating in clinical activities during the semester, provided the student also has or will have a presence on campus.
  • For-cause testing – For-cause testing is done when campus health officials determine the need based on a notable increase in reported positive tests or COVID-19-related symptoms in a common geographic area or group of people, such as a floor of a residence hall, a Greek house, student group or a class. If for-cause testing is required, a team member from the UA COVID Support Program will contact the appropriate individuals with details.

How to get tested

Testing for students is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Coleman Coliseum, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Student Health Center. These times may be modified on a weekly basis based on need and demand. Students testing at Coleman are encouraged to schedule an appointment through myBama and should bring a health insurance card, CWID and driver’s license. Students without health insurance will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, but the goal is to not turn any students away if testing is warranted.

Students who need to see a doctor due to symptoms are encouraged to go to the Student Health Center even if they have not yet been tested.

Drive-thru testing is available at the Student Health Center this weekend, Sept. 5, 6 and 7 from 11 a.m.- 2 p.m. Students are asked to wear a mask, bring their insurance card, have only two people per car and keep windows rolled up until testing. Appointments can be made by calling 205-348-2778 or 205-348-0386.

Employees who need to be tested should contact the University Medical Center at 205-348-1770.

Students and employees are encouraged to be tested on campus, instead of with an off-campus health care provider, so the information on positive tests can be used confidentially to alert others of possible exposure. If testing is done off campus, students, faculty and staff must report positive results to the UA COVID-19 Support Program at 205-348-CV19 (2819).

The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.