COVID-19 Tests Will Be Available to Category 4 Employees and Grad Students during Holiday Break
These groups can get tests for a short period of time as campus goes quiet
As the BU community approaches a holiday season where the combination of rising COVID-19 numbers and family gatherings is likely to bring as much anxiety as good cheer, the University is hoping to ease some of that angst by making available, on a temporary basis, coronavirus tests for BU community members who are not ordinarily tested: regular full- and part-time faculty and staff and graduate students who are assigned to category 4.
The tests, which are funded by the University, are available for those in category 4 at the University’s four asymptomatic collection sites during two time periods—from Saturday, December 12, through Wednesday, December 23, and from Saturday, January 2, through Sunday, January 10 (family members of the BU community are not eligible for the testing). The hours can be found here.
Once students begin to arrive and the campus starts to repopulate as expected on Monday, January 11, the expanded testing will no longer be offered, because the Clinical Testing Lab that BU has set up doesn’t have the capacity to test every person in categories 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Even though many category 4 employees live in suburbs well outside of Boston, the University expects that many of the more than 6,000 who live closer to campus, in Boston and Brookline especially, may take advantage of the tests.
Gloria Waters, vice president and associate provost for research, says the increase in the number of cases in Massachusetts and Boston persuaded BU leaders to offer the additional tests.
“We know that many of our faculty and staff assigned to testing category 4 would like to have a test,” says Waters. “And because many of our students are leaving for the break, we will have some excess capacity for a few weeks. We would like to offer that capacity to our own employees and graduate students who may want to use it.”
She says there is no cost to faculty, staff, or graduate students who are tested, and the results should be available the next day. Results will be delivered through the student and employee medical record systems. She says the expanded testing is offered only to faculty, staff, and graduate students (including PhDs), and that family members of those eligible are not included.
“We would like to be able to offer tests to family members,” says Waters, “but the systems we use don’t allow us to do that. Tests are scheduled and results are delivered through our student and employee medical record systems. We do not have the appropriate systems to offer tests to those outside of the BU community who are not a part of our medical records.”
Graduate students, faculty, and staff who are interested in being tested should visit the Healthway website, log on to “My Appointments,” and choose a time and site for the test. The Healthway website will provide you with the times and locations that are available. If you wish to be tested, you need to make an appointment and are encouraged to sign up for your appointment at least 24 hours in advance. On the day of the test, prior to arriving on campus, you are required to submit a “daily attestation” symptom report confirming that you are not exhibiting any signs of COVID-19. Once attestation is completed, Healthway will send a green “cleared” badge to your phone, which you must present at the test collection site to be admitted to the facility. You must also present your BU ID.
Those who report COVID-19 symptoms on their symptom attestation should stay at home and wait for a call from a Healthway staff member, who will refer them for testing appropriately, based on their symptoms. Students, faculty, and staff who are reporting coronavirus symptoms are tested only at the Health Services Annex, which is located behind the asymptomatic Agganis Arena collection site at 925 Rear Commonwealth Avenue. They are not allowed into the other test collection sites. (Symptomatic students, faculty, and staff can also call Healthway at 617-353-0550.)
Waters suggests viewing this video explaining the testing procedure before showing up for testing.
This program is available to category 4 full- and part-time faculty and staff and graduate students on both the Charles River Campus and the Medical Campus.
Waters emphasizes that a negative COVID-19 test result means only that the virus cannot be detected at the time of your test. “If you plan on interacting with family or traveling, it does not necessarily mean that you will not come into contact with the virus between the time of testing and your visit,” she says. “There is still the potential of spreading the virus even if you are not symptomatic.”