COVID-19 Tests for Students

Testing Frequency

All students who live on campus are required to be tested three times per week. Each week, students will receive an email to register for their appointments for the following week. 

Students who miss their testing appointment are in violation of the Statement of Shared Responsibility and may face disciplinary action and/or removal from campus. In particular, any student who misses multiple appointments in a semester will be referred to the Office of Student Affairs and Community Standards for disciplinary action and may be removed from campus.

Student who live off campus in the surrounding area are encouraged to participate in the testing program and are offered weekly appointments.

How the Testing Works

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. Students 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.

Negative 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. You will be contacted by a member of the Amherst Health Center if you have a positive test result so that a medical professional can discuss the next steps with you.

Testing Location

Testing is performed on campus outdoors, weather permitting, in tents adjacent to Alumni House or 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. Each week you will receive an email to sign up for your three weekly appointments for the following week.

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

Students must visibly wear their Amherst ID to the testing site, and 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.

Positive Test Results

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.

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.

As part of the College’s contact tracing efforts, the Health Center will work with the student to determine other people with whom they may have been in contact and who may therefore need to quarantine. In the interest of campus safety, students 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.

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. 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.

 Based on MA state guidance, the length of quarantine will be 10 days (reduced from the previous 14 days), provided the close contact:

  • has no symptoms,
  • tests negative at day eight or later (using a molecular diagnostic test, which is the test the College uses), and
  • continues to monitor for symptoms for 14 days.

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

Questions?

Students who have questions about the testing program should contact the COVID-19 Testing Center at covidtesting@amherst.edu.