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COVID-19 Testing

How To Test and Receive Results

If You Test Positive

If You Are Exposed: Contact Tracing & Affiliate Notification

AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership

COVID-19 Testing

How To Test

Where do I go to be tested?

Please refer to the Testing page for up-to-date information on testing locations and hours.

How often should I test?

There are different categories, based on your level of presence on campus. Please see the details on our COVID-19 Testing Procedures page.

What's the schedule? Can I make an appointment?

Testing is made on a walk-in basis and not by appointment. Please refer to the Testing page for up-to-date information on testing locations and hours.

You may also be tested by your health provider or local urgent care. If you are in distress, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Faculty and staff cannot make appointments at the Student Health Center

What type of test is AU providing?

It’s a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) saliva test, which tests for active infection. It tests for an active COVID-19 infection. It does not show if you have previously had COVID-19. Effective March 1, 2021, AU will utilize the University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system.

Is there a charge for this test?

No. For faculty and staff, testing will be considered compensated work time.

How should I prepare?

You cannot have anything to eat, drink, or chew for one hour prior to testing. This includes brushing your teeth, chewing gum, taking medications, smoking, or vaping. If you have a smartphone or tablet, please bring your device to your appointment so that you can register to receive your test results. If you do not have a mobile device, there will a device available onsite.

I'm concerned I may have symptoms of Covid-19. Can I still test at AU? What should I do?

If you are feeling unwell, you should not come to campus for work or classes. If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you should get tested as soon as possible. You can get tested on campus, but please refrain from participating in other campus activities while experiencing symptoms. 

Any student who has possible symptoms of COVID-19 -- whether you are on-campus or off-campus, full-time or part-time – can make a telehealth appointment to be seen at the SHC (as long as they are living in DC). Make appointment with Student Health Center by calling 202-885-3380 or scheduling online (AU login required). Students who have symptoms are required to obtain a COVID-19 test as soon as possible. 

Is time spent getting the COVID test considered hours worked?

Time spent getting tested at the AU testing site during work hours or adjacent to work hours is compensable.

How and when will I get my results?

Results will be in your Safer Community app. You will also receive an email when your results are ready. It will take around 24 hours, typically less.

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If You Test Positive

I’m a faculty or staff member. What happens if I test positive for Covid-19? 

If you tested through AU, you’ll get the notification on your Shield T-3 app as soon as the lab has the results. AU is automatically notified at the same time.

If you tested outside AU, use the Self-Report Form to report your results to AU.

Here’s what happens next:

  • You must self-isolate and not return to campus for a minimum of 10 days. (For more information on isolating, please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.
  • AU will reach out to you with directions. Your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will also work with you to determine whether you had close contact with any campus community members. Any contacts will be notified with the date of potential exposure, but no identifying information about you will be disclosed.
  • Select information gathered by your COVID-19 Case Coordinator will be shared with the DC Department of Health to assist their contact tracing efforts. You should expect the DC Department of Health to contact you to identify additional contacts and to provide guidance on when you may end isolation.
  • Employee Relations will consult with faculty and staff regarding available leave; coordinate with your supervisor, Dean, or department chair; and facilitate your return to work.
  • AU community members who test positive for COVID-19 are expected to comply with the Affiliate Notification Program and cooperate with contact tracing efforts. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

I’m a student. What happens if I test positive for Covid-19?

If you live in the residence halls, you will be moved to AU’s Isolation Housing for a minimum of 10 days. If you live off-campus, you must self-isolate and not return to campus during that time. Information on Isolation Housing, what happens if you’re a contact of someone else who tests positive, and other key details can be found on the page When a Student Tests Positive.

What happens if I test positive, but not through AU-provided testing?

Self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

If you have a physical presence on campus and AU is aware that you have tested positive, you will be contacted by phone by an AU Covid Case Coordinator to help connect you with resources you may need and provide guidance as appropriate.

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

“Quarantine” refers to those who have been exposed and must stay home to avoid the possibility of infecting others. “Isolation” is used to refer to people infected with the virus. The CDC explains the terms. Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection.

I’m a student not in the Washington, DC region. What happens if I test positive or am exposed? Do I need to report it? What supports are available?

Students, please connect with the Dean of Students office if you need assistance. They can help you notify faculty that are not able to participate in classes.

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If You Are Exposed: Contact Tracing & Affiliate Notification

If I’ve been exposed at AU, how will I find out? What happens next?

If AU is aware that you have been exposed through our Affiliate Notification Program, you will be contacted by a COVID Case Coordinator who will provide you with guidance on limiting your daily activities, share applicable campus support resources, and answer any questions or concerns related to the exposure notification.

The date of contact will be shared, but no identifying information about the individual who tested positive will be disclosed.

Please see Health and Safety Directive: Requirements Following COVID-19 Exposure, Positive Test, or Suspected Infection. For details on contact tracing at AU, see this document on Affiliate Notification.

What if I’m exposed, but not notified through AU?

Members of the community may be exposed to the virus in ways that are not related to AU. If you find out that you have been exposed and are required to quarantine, self-report by using the Self Report Dashboard (AU login required) in the AU Forward portal.

Self-report if you have tested and are awaiting results; have tested positive; or are in quarantine due to known exposure. You may also self-report symptoms.

I was just notified about being in close/proximity contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, but I was already aware of my exposure and already took a test. Do I need to get tested again?

If you took the test within the timeframe outlined in the email notice, you do not need to re-test. Unless you are experiencing symptoms, we do not recommend testing earlier than 3 days post-exposure because there may not have been enough time for the virus to replicate and be detected by a test. If you tested before the date range listed, you should test again within the recommended date range.

I received notification that someone in my class tested positive for COVID-19, but I was not in class on the day(s) listed in the email. Should I still take a test?

No, you can disregard the email if you were not in the class on the date listed.

What do I do if I’m unable to separate from my housemate when they test positive for COVID-19?

If you are fully vaccinated and unable to separate from you roommate, housemate, significant other, etc., you are not required to quarantine or self-isolate unless you are experiencing symptoms. You are required to take a COVID-19 PCR at the time you are identified as a close contact and continue to test every 3-4 days during the positive individual’s isolation period. You are also required to take a final PCR test 3-5 days after their last day in isolation. Please self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms throughout the positive individual’s isolation period and for 14 days after they have been cleared from isolation.

If you are not fully vaccinated and unable to separate from your roommate, housemate, significant other, etc., you are required to get tested immediately when you are identified as a close contact. You will begin quarantine immediately and continue to quarantine throughout the isolation period of the person with COVID-19, and for an additional 10 days starting the day after the end of isolation for the person with COVID-19. You will need to get tested again 5-7 days after the end of isolation of the infected household member.

I was in class with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. What is my risk of testing positive?

We make notifications to classes as an added layer of precaution. Our community’s vaccination rate (98%) and implementation of universal indoor masking puts risk of classroom transmission very low.

I was exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19 but missed the 3–5-day post-exposure testing window. What should I do?

If you miss the testing window outlined in your email notification, you should still get a COVID-19 PCR test as soon as possible at the on campus at the COVID-19 testing clinic.

If you were required to tested because you are a close contact and missed the testing window due to an extenuating circumstance, please contact AU contact tracing at covidnotification@american.edu to inform us of your situation, as a failure to comply with mandated testing is a conduct violation.

I’m experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. Should I still attend my classes? What should I do?

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, you should self-isolate and obtain a COVID-19 PCR test at the on campus COVID-19 testing clinic.

I am feeling unwell, but tested negative with a PCR test for COVID-19. What should I do?

If you are symptomatic but received a negative PCR test, it is unlikely that you have a COVID-19 infection. You should work with your healthcare provider for more information about your health status and when you may safely resume daily activities.

If you have symptoms associated with COVID-19 and tested negative with an antigen test, you should follow up with a PCR test because they are more sensitive.

I’ve been instructed to self-monitor symptoms. What does that mean?

Self-monitoring for symptoms means watching out for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 that can appear up to 14 days after exposure to the virus.

I was instructed to take a COVID-19 test and the campus test center is closed. Is there anywhere else I can get a test?

Off-campus test locations can be found on the CVS Minute Clinics, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia Coronavirus websites.

If you test positive at an off-campus test site, you are required to to self-report the result. This will trigger the appropriate university protocols.

I was told that I need to get a test due to being a close or proximity contact. Am I required to test on campus?

You are not required to get tested on campus, but we highly recommend that you do. Tests on campus are saliva-based PCR tests, available on a walk-in basis, and are free of charge to the AU community. Results are typically sent within 24 hours of test collection, and positive results are automatically sent to AU’s COVID-19 response team for follow-up.

I’m a faculty member and one of my students tested positive for COVID-19. Why haven’t I received notification from AU Contact Tracing about being a proximity contact?

There are instances when a student may notify their faculty members of their positive test result at the same time they submit a self-report to the university. This means that there will be a delay of up to 24 hours from when you are notified by the student and when AU contact tracing might be in touch with you.

Our contact tracing team prioritizes communication with the positive individual and determines their infectious period, close contacts and proximity contacts. Then, we notify close contacts and proximity contacts with guidance and next steps. If the student was confirmed to have attended your class during their infectious period, everyone listed on the class roster (via the registrar’s records) will be sent a proximity notification email. You will not receive a proximity notification if the student attended your class outside of their infectious period.

I believe I'm a close contact to someone who tested positive, but I haven’t heard from AU contact tracing. What should I do?

Our contact tracing is predicated on an in-dept interview with the individual who tested positive. Please call or email the contact tracing team at 202-885-7950 or covidnotification@american.edu and we will discuss next steps.

I’m a close contact to someone who tested positive. Why was I told that I don’t need to quarantine?

Per DC Health guidelines, if you are identified as a close contact of a person with COVID-19, you are NOT required to quarantine if you have had COVID-19 (symptomatic or asymptomatic) within the last 90 days and do not have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection, or if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and do not have any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 infection.

Regardless of vaccination status you must still self-monitor for symptoms for 14 days after your exposure and are required to take a COVID-19 test 3-5 days after your last date of exposure.

Why am I told to test 3-5 days after exposure when we know that COVID-19 incubation time can be up to 14 days?

Our testing timeline is based on that of CDC and DC Health, which acknowledges that virus incubation time can be as long as 14 days. The 3-5 days post-exposure timeline balances rapid detection with incubation time and testing accuracy.

Unless you are experiencing symptoms, we do not recommend testing earlier than 3 days post-exposure because there may not have been enough time for the virus to replicate and be detected by a test.

How does contact tracing work and what should I expect to happen if I am exposed to COVID-19 on campus? What is the definition of a close contact?

An important tool in controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our community is AU’s Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification Program. The contact tracing team will provide you with additional information on what steps to take if you are considered a close contact, which is defined by the CDC as someone who has been within six feet for a total of 15 or more minutes within 24 hours during the infectious period.

For more information, please review the recording of our community webinar on contact tracing.

If I know that a community member has tested positive, should I report it to the university?

All community members are required to self-report their COVID-19 symptoms, quarantine status, or positive test results to the university. The contact tracing team will be automatically notified about positive test results that come through AU’s testing centers. If you have concerns that a community member did not self-report following a test taken off campus, you may contact covidnotification@american.edu with that individual’s information and a member of the team will follow up directly.

What is a proximity notification and what information does it contain? Does receiving one indicate exposure to COVID-19?

Proximity notifications are a key part of our Contact Tracing and Affiliate Notification Program. The proximity surveillance testing strategy identifies those who have shared a physical setting for a prolonged period with someone who has tested positive (e.g., sports teams, residence halls, classes) but are not considered close contacts. Community members receiving proximity notifications are encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.

For more information, please review the recording of our community webinar on contact tracing.

Should faculty or students take extra precautions in the classroom following a close contact or proximity notification?

In the vast majority of cases, these notifications should not trigger a change to class modality. Vaccinated students and faculty are expected to continue to attend class as long as they are not experiencing symptoms and have not tested positive. Faculty who otherwise had been teaching unmasked are encouraged to wear a mask as an added precaution.

Even if not required to quarantine based upon university guidance, are faculty, students, and staff who would like to take additional precautions allowed to do so? For example, if vaccinated but exposed, can students have excused class absences for in-person classes until they receive a negative test result?

If you are not experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19 and are fully vaccinated with a known exposure to COVID-19, you are expected to continue your campus activities, including attending class. Fully vaccinated close contacts are required to get a COVID-19 PCR test between 3 and 5 days after their exposure date, and self-monitor symptoms for 14 days. If you begin to experience symptoms associated with COVID-19, you are required to self-isolate, take a COVID-19 test, and submit a Self-Report to notify the university of your health status.

Why is AU not requiring regular surveillance testing for all community members with a campus presence?

AU has implemented a robust health and safety plan, with faculty, staff, and students having access to university testing facilities at no charge. Certain groups are required to test regularly (e.g., unvaccinated individuals, student athletes), while others are strongly encouraged to do so (e.g., immunocompromised individuals, faculty teaching without masks). Community members are also required to get tested upon the onset of COVID-19 symptoms or following notification of their status as a close contact to someone who has tested positive. We have also instituted proximity notifications to encourage voluntary surveillance testing among groups who have shared physical settings with individuals who have tested positive, even if they are not considered close contacts. We believe that the current testing plan, combined with vaccine and mask mandates, will protect the health of our community. That said, the university has specified that even those who are fully vaccinated may be subject to periodic surveillance testing should circumstances change moving forward (e.g., new highly contagious variants, growth in case counts, etc.).

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AU’s Shield T3 Testing and Partnership 

What is Shield T3 testing? 

The University of Illinois Shield T3 testing system is an accurate, affordable, and convenient saliva-based PCR test that has been used more than 1.3 million times with the University of Illinois community. The technology is also being used by the University of Wisconsin, the University of Maine, Vanderbilt University, and Santa Clara University, among others. 

Why is AU funding the mobile laboratory for other universities?

Robust COVID-19 testing is essential to the health and safety of the American University community and the entire DC area. Bringing together universities, K-12 schools, and community organizations to provide the Shield T3 testing will increase knowledge about the virus, help prevent further community spread, and advance in-person activity. To support our community, we need access to fast and reliable testing, and this approach is cost-effective and efficient. It is also a powerful illustration of AU’s strategic commitment to working with Washington.

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