Campus News

Chancellor announces spring testing program

The Carolina Together Testing Program, a re-entry and asymptomatic evaluation COVID-19 testing plan, is a campus-wide effort, developed to ensure that Carolina is a safe and inclusive environment this spring.

A sign outside the union with COVID Testing on the front
(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

Spring semester will begin with a rigorous new testing program, including required re-entry testing and twice-weekly asymptomatic evaluation testing for all students living on campus or in Chapel Hill or Carrboro, Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz announced in a campus email on Nov. 23.

Testing will be available but not required for faculty and staff who want to be tested. Testing for graduate students will depend on their interactions on campus and the requirements determined by their program.

To accommodate the increased testing, the University is adapting several campus locations into testing centers and building a test-processing lab in the Genome Sciences Building.

“The nation and our peer universities have learned a lot about how and when to employ a rigorous testing regimen,” Guskiewicz wrote. “Testing is only one part of a comprehensive approach to preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus, but it is an important part, and we have incorporated our top infectious disease experts and everything we have learned from around the state and nation into this plan.”

Testing on campus is not new. The University began evaluation testing in September by offering asymptomatic testing at the Carolina Union. In the last week alone, Campus Health conducted 4,150 exit tests before students head home for winter break. The testing continues through Wednesday, Nov. 25.

But spring testing will be far more extensive. To accommodate the Carolina Together Testing Program, Guskiewicz wrote, the University is adapting additional existing campus locations into testing centers and lab space.

When students return to campus, Carolina will provide asymptomatic evaluation testing for students, faculty and staff at three campus locations:

  • the CURRENT ArtSpace + Studio at Carolina Square,
  • the Carolina Union and
  • the Rams Head Recreation Center.

The test will be a self-administered PCR anterior nares nasal swab test. The University will process results at a lab being built in the Genome Sciences Building, which will allow for results within in 48 hours. The University will use a web-based app, Hall Pass, that has been developed by Carolina faculty, for testing and results reporting.

Spring testing requirements

The chancellor’s message provided the following general information about spring testing requirements. More details are available on the Carolina Together website. After Thanksgiving, the University will share more instructions for the process, timing for return testing and enforcement.

Undergraduate Students: Going into the spring semester, all undergraduate students living on campus and in Chapel Hill or Carrboro will be required to take a test at home prior to arrival, as well as undergo re-entry and regular asymptomatic evaluation testing twice a week throughout the semester. The steps of the return process are outlined on the Carolina Together website, and the University will provide more information and instructions soon.

Graduate Students: Testing for graduate students will depend on their interactions on campus and the requirements determined by their program. For example, those coming to campus to teach, learn or work in a lab will be required to test regularly, while some will be required to use the Daily Health Checklist to monitor symptoms and testing will be voluntary. Graduate students will hear more about their specific requirements from their programs in the coming weeks.

Employees: Faculty and staff working on campus will be asked to use the Daily Health Checklist to check symptoms before coming to work each day. Testing will also be available once a week for faculty and staff coming to campus for those who want to be tested. This follows the recommendations of the University’s health care experts after contact-tracing efforts in the fall confirmed there was no spread of the virus in the classrooms or workplaces.

Symptomatic testing

The evaluation testing locations are intended for asymptomatic testing only. Symptomatic students will continue to be tested at Campus Health. Symptomatic faculty and staff will continue to receive information from University Employee Occupational Health Clinic on where and when to be tested.

“I recognize that there is still a great deal of uncertainty when it comes to the state of the virus now and in January,” the message continued. “As I write this, cases are going up across much of the nation, and we are heading into the colder months when the virus can spread more easily. We will closely monitor the state of cases and hospitalizations, both nationally, in our state, and locally, as we approach the semester and will be ready to alter our plans and make necessary accommodations, if needed.”

The University will announce any changes to the spring semester operations by Jan. 9, Guskiewicz wrote.