August 1, 2020

Dear Students, 

As I communicated to you in my July 29 email, we are pleased to provide at-home COVID-19 testing kits for all students who are returning to campus for their studies in the fall semester who are currently in the United States. I am writing now to provide additional and updated information about this testing.

It remains the case that all students who are returning to campus for their studies in the fall semester who are currently in the United States will need to complete an initial test (Test One) and receive a negative result before you will be able to return to campus. However, the date of delivery of that test has been changed to August 7. 

Test One Required Actions: 

  • If the best address to receive a UPS delivery on August 7th is different from the address you provided to us earlier, please update this form no later than 5 p.m. Monday, August 3
  • Watch for the delivery of the test kit on August 7
  • Log on to www.LetsGetChecked.com to register receipt of your kit
    Please take the test and return to UPS for overnight delivery on August 7th or August 8th. 
  • The test kit will include all the instructions you need for self-administering the test and for returning the sample to LetsGetChecked via UPS
  • Begin watching for your test results approximately 48 hours after LetsGetChecked’s lab receives your sample
  • Begin completing the health status survey daily starting August 7; you will receive an email with a link to the survey every morning

In addition, we will be sending a second at-home testing kit to students who live in states other than those exempted in the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order [Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont].  In order to be exempt from the Massachusetts quarantine requirements, you must have a negative result from a test administered no more than 72-hours before their arrival on campus (Test Two).  

Test Two Required Action:

  • Watch for a communication requesting the address where you will be 72 hours before your scheduled arrival on campus.
  • Watch for a communication asking you to sign up for a 15-minute appointment to have your test observed. Watch for additional information about this second round of testing.

Upon arrival to campus, students will also be tested upon arrival and twice per week throughout the semester.

Now that we have been able to secure testing for 72 hours before arrival in order to be in compliance with the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order, we can provide move-in dates. A separate email with move-in details will be sent tomorrow, Sunday August 2.  We know that this has been a source of great difficulty and anxiety and we have been working to make sure that we could provide clear information.  Tomorrow’s email will provide a lot of information about the move-in process and respond to your questions and concerns.

Sincerely,

Liz Agosto
Dean of Students


PURPOSE OF THIS TEST

COVID-19 testing, in conjunction with other measures such as physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, is an important part of Amherst College’s safety precautions for the fall semester.  Since some individuals are infected with COVID-19 without symptoms, testing of Amherst students before you leave your home for campus will help identify instances where students might be carrying the virus unknowingly and, therefore, should avoid traveling to Amherst until they are free of the virus.   

Students traveling from states other than those exempted from the Massachusetts COVID-19 Travel Order will be required to take a second test [Test Two] within 72 hours of arriving on campus. This test must be taken while being observed by a medical health professional. Once your move-in date has been confirmed, you will be asked to sign up for a 15-minute appointment with a member of the Amherst College Health Services staff. 

Once you have administered the test, and before you return to campus, we ask that you make every effort to reduce your exposure to the virus, including avoiding large gatherings, wearing a mask or face covering, washing your hands frequently and practicing physical distancing, among others. 

Additional Information about the tests

We have partnered with LetsGetChecked (LGC) to provide students who are returning to campus with an FDA-authorized COVID-19 test that can be self-administered at home. Test kits for Test One will be shipped by LGC via UPS overnight delivery to arrive at your location on Friday, August 7. Instructions on how to perform the test, including a video demonstration, will be included in the test kit. The test is non-invasive and requires a gentle lower nasal swab that can be collected by you in your home.  

In order for Amherst College to conduct COVID-19 testing for students, staff, and faculty living and working on-campus, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) requires us to collect certain demographic information, including gender, race, and ethnicity, for the purposes of aggregated, non-personally-identifiable reporting of test results. We want to be transparent and acknowledge the limitations of the categories under each demographic question mandated by public health authorities. 

TEST RESULTS AND RETURN TO CAMPUS

When complete, students will package their sample for return shipment to LGC’s lab via UPS overnight delivery. The transport tube deactivates the virus if it exists in the sample, making it safe for transport. Students may bring the pre-paid package to any UPS location, or you may arrange for pick-up by UPS (if available in your area). Test results will be available approximately 48 hours after receipt of the sample at LGC’s lab. Please plan accordingly.  

Students receiving a negative test result from Test One are welcome to travel to campus for arrival on their assigned date. Students receiving a positive test result from Test One may not travel to campus and should seek medical care from their medical provider. Further information will be provided to students by Amherst Health Services Center about when they may come to campus. Test results will be sent to students and also to the Amherst Health Services Center.

Students receiving a negative test result from Test Two will be welcome to move into their residence hall and begin the on-campus testing protocol. Students receiving a positive test result from Test Two will need to go into isolation when they arrive on campus.

SPECIAL NOTE FOR STUDENTS WHO HAVE PREVIOUSLY TESTED POSITIVE FOR COVID-19

If your LGC results indicate that you have tested positive for COVID-19 but you tested positive for COVID-19 during the previous 90 days, you should provide Amherst College Health Services the lab documentation of history of positive PCR test, and speak with them for further instructions. You can contact them at Healthservice@amherst.edu.

STUDENTS WHO FAIL TO COMPLY WITH THIS TESTING REQUIREMENT

Pre-arrival testing is required for those that are able to receive a test, specifically those that are residing in the United States and those over 18.  Students who fail to comply will not be permitted to return to campus and should not travel to Amherst.

QUESTIONS AND CONCERNS

If you have any questions, please contact covidtesting@amherst.edu. Your question will be referred to the appropriate individual on campus who will provide an answer as soon as possible.