Sentinel Testing Continues in Spring 2021 with Improvements

  • January 14th, 2021

To help prevent the spread of coronavirus, COVID-19 sentinel testing of campus community members will continue in Spring 2021, with more frequent testing scheduled the first three weeks of the semester.

Participants will receive incentives like Starbucks or Bama Cash gift cards, or other items.

Beginning this semester, all sentinel testing will be managed through UA medical facilities, so registration is no longer required.

Sentinel testing captures a random sampling of students, faculty and staff to help monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 so UA can respond promptly to outbreaks or increases in infection rates.

Spring 2021 sentinel testing will include a sample of the UA population and is planned to be conducted weekly for three consecutive weeks beginning Jan. 19 and every other week thereafter.

Participation in sentinel testing is voluntary for most, but required for:

  • Students living on campus;
  • Students participating in clinical activities, who will have a presence on campus at any time during the semester; and
  • Other individuals participating in University-sponsored programs, at the discretion of UA.

Because sentinel testing is one of several important measures for preventing the spread of the coronavirus and keeping campus safe, voluntary participation is strongly encouraged.

If randomly selected, individuals will receive an email from the COVID-19 Support Program with instructions. Participants will choose a time and location to take the test conveniently, confidentially, and at no cost. A PCR test with a short nasal swab will be administered, and results returned within 72 hours.

Additional Changes to Sentinel Testing for Spring 2021

  • Once an individual participates in sentinel testing, they will not be included in the selection pool again for 30 days.
  • All persons who are randomly selected and agree to participate will be tested regardless of previous COVID-19 test results.
  • Those who have isolated because of a positive test in the last 12 weeks will not be required to isolate again if the sentinel test is positive.

Sentinel testing is one of many measures, such as physical distancing and face coverings, that UA is taking to protect the campus community as outlined in its Spring 2021 Return Plan in accordance with The University of Alabama System’s COVID-19 updated guidelines.

More information on sentinel testing, return testing, for-cause testing and more can be found at the UA Healthinfo website or by contacting the COVID-19 Support Program.

The University of Alabama, part of The University of Alabama System, is the state’s flagship university. UA shapes a better world through its teaching, research and service. With a global reputation for excellence, UA provides an inclusive, forward-thinking environment and nearly 200 degree programs on a beautiful, student-centered campus. A leader in cutting-edge research, UA advances discovery, creative inquiry and knowledge through more than 30 research centers. As the state’s largest higher education institution, UA drives economic growth in Alabama and beyond.