COVID-19 Tests for Faculty and Staff

Updated 12/3/20

Anyone who is permitted to come to campus, and intends to do so, is required to have one COVID-19 test each week. 

Detailed information about the testing procedure and how to schedule an appointment will be sent to individuals after they have received permission to come to campus from either their division head or the Provost/Dean of the Faculty.

Tests will be provided at the College’s expense in open-sided tents adjacent to Alumni House or, in the case of inclement weather, inside of Alumni House.

Participation in the College’s asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program is required as part of the College’s response to the ongoing pandemic. Individuals who fail to comply are not permitted on campus and may face disciplinary action.

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Before coming to campus for any reason, all faculty and staff must obtain permission from their department chair or division head. See Permission & Requirements for Coming to Campus.


Testing Frequency & Categories

The College has established testing categories based on the frequency and duration of work on campus. Any employee coming to campus must have at least one test per week.

  • On-Campus (2x weekly testing): Employees who work the better part of 3 or more days each week on campus.
  • Hybrid/Part-Time (1x weekly testing): Employees who come to campus at least once a week for any duration of time.
  • Emergency/On-Call (1x weekly testing): Employees who do not have any specific plans to come to campus, but may need to (without any notice).
  • One-Time (as-needed testing 3-4 days before visiting campus): Employees who need to visit campus once (e.g., to retrieve belongings in their office space).

How the Testing Will Work

Amherst College is working with the world-renowned Broad Institute (pronounced “brode”), a research collaborative between Harvard University and MIT located in Cambridge, MA, to provide this testing. The College has purchased and received thousands of test kits from the Broad, and will administer tests on campus at no cost to individuals being tested. The tests are anterior nares collection tests, performed at the very lower end of each nostril, using a collection swab similar to those used for personal hygiene purposes. Faculty and staff will self-administer the test, which takes only a few seconds, while being observed and assisted by trained staff. Instructions will be provided at the site, and trained professionals will be there to explain the process, answer questions, and guide you every step of the way.

The College will transport specimens to the Broad Institute each afternoon. The Broad will conduct the lab work and communicate results for each specimen within approximately 24 hours of the laboratory’s receipt of the tests.

All test result notifications will be sent to you by email. You will need to log in to the secure Broad portal to view your results. Positive test results will require the additional next steps as outlined below. Individuals with a positive test result MAY NOT return to campus until cleared by the College.


Alumni House

Testing Location

We will perform testing on campus outdoors, in tents adjacent to Alumni House. (In the event of inclement weather, testing will be performed inside Alumni House with appropriate physical distancing and other safety precautions). The site is well marked with clear one-way entrance and exit areas.

You must sign up for a 15-minute time slot for the test. Detailed information about the testing procedure and how to schedule an appointment will be sent to individuals after they have received permission to come to campus from either their division head or the Provost/Dean of the Faculty.

You must wear a face covering, which will only be removed momentarily while you self-administer the test.

The entire process from check-in to check-out only takes a few minutes.


Consent Forms and ID Required

Faculty and staff should bring their Amherst ID to the testing site, and you may be required to confirm basic personal and contact information to ensure that each specimen is correctly associated with each tested individual, and so test results can be communicated on a timely basis.

In addition, two initial consent forms are required, one provided by the Broad Institute, one provided by Amherst College. We will have paper copies available at check-in for those who do not have access to a computer or mobile device to sign the electronic consent forms.

Finally, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires, by law, the collection of certain demographic information, including gender, race, and ethnicity, for the purposes of aggregated, non-personally-identifiable reporting of test results.


Postive Test Results

Any faculty or staff member who tests positive for COVID-19 should do the following:

  • Contact your primary health care provider immediately.
  • Let your supervisor know that you are unable to come to campus, as well as the date you anticipate being able to return to campus (if/when known).
  • Respond to any outreach from the College’s contact tracers.

As the ordering physician, the College’s Health Services Office will also receive direct notification of test results from the Broad Institute and will share that information in the following limited situations:

  • With local, state, or federal public health authorities, as required by law;
  • With the College’s contact tracing staff as necessary to conduct contact tracing in accordance with protocols established by public health authorities; and
  • With the Office of Human Resources if there is reason to believe that a faculty or staff member is present on campus when they have either not been tested or have tested positive and have not yet been cleared to return to work.

As part of the College’s contact tracing efforts, designated contact tracers will work with the faculty or staff member to determine other people with whom they may have been in contact and who may therefore need to be tested and/or to self-isolate. In the interest of campus safety, faculty and staff are required to cooperate with the College’s contact tracing program.

Please note that this testing requirement supplements, but does not replace, the required health status screening and self-monitoring of symptoms. For more information about these requirements, please consult the College’s Faculty and Staff Guide to Returning to Campus.


Mandatory Quarantine and Isolation Periods

Isolation

Students who test positive will need to isolate in designated rooms on campus for at least 10 days. Health Services will conduct regular health check-ins and the College will provide meal delivery and support for students to continue learning remotely from their isolation room.

Faculty and Staff who test positive will need to isolate at home for at least 10 days.

Symptomatic: For most persons with COVID-19 illness, isolation and precautions can generally be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset and resolution of fever for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing medications, and with improvement of other symptoms. A limited number of persons with severe illness may produce replication-competent virus beyond 10 days that may warrant extending the duration of isolation and precautions for up to 20 days after symptom onset.

Asymptomatic: For persons who never develop symptoms, isolation and other precautions can be discontinued 10 days after the date of their first positive RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

Quarantine

Students who are identified as having been in close contact with a positive case through the College’s contract tracing program will need to quarantine for 10 days as indicated by MA state guidance. They will be moved to a designated quarantine space and the College will provide them with meal delivery and support to continue learning remotely from their quarantine room.

Faculty and staff who are identified as having been in close contact with a positive case through the College’s contract tracing program will need to quarantine for 10 days as indicated by MA state guidance. If a faculty or staff member cohabitates with a person who must quarantine due to a known exposure, then that faculty or staff member will need to follow the same quarantine.

Anyone who tests positive during quarantine will then need to follow appropriate isolation guidelines.


Questions?

Faculty and staff who have questions about the testing program should contact the COVID-19 Testing Center at covidtesting@amherst.edu. You may also contact the Office of Human Resources, hr@amherst.edu. Your question will be referred to the appropriate individual on campus who will provide an answer as soon as possible.


staff member instructs a student on how to self-administer a test

Getting Tested

Watch a brief video showing the testing center and procedure, and learn more about getting COVID-19 tests on campus.