At the beginning of the fall semester, we asked each of you to test for COVID-19 prior to the first day of classes. Our ability to identify cases early and prevent spread to others set us up for a successful fall with low positivity rates. To continue to keep our community safe, we are asking you all to test again prior to the beginning of the spring semester.
Testing Expectations For your safety and the safety of our community, the university requests that all students coming to campus for the spring semester receive a viral test within 72 hours (3 days) prior to when you return to campus or the surrounding community for in-person social activities, events, or classes. The spirit of this expectation is to detect cases prior to engaging with the campus community so that we can prevent further spread and keep cases low again this spring. We know that students are going to have unique plans, which could include staying in Austin for the entire break or multiple trips in and out of Austin. We appreciate and understand this and know that you will use your best judgment to abide by the testing guidelines as they make the most sense in your situation.
What type of test should I get? Students should receive an antigen or molecular test, which detect the presence of active COVID-19 infections. Molecular tests are also called nucleic acid amplification tests (NAAT) and include widely-used PCR tests. Students may test at a health clinic or testing site or use a self-collection/at-home testing kit, such as BinaxNow. Serology (blood) tests for COVID-19 antibodies will not be accepted as they detect the presence of previous infections.
Please complete this simple form confirming that you have completed the test—note, this is a change from the process last fall when we asked you to upload results to the University Health Services student portal. Please read the Frequently Asked Questions for more details on pre-arrival testing. Students who will be living in on-campus residence halls or 2400 Nueces have received a message on a separate process for testing and should refer to that guidance.
Finally, we ask that in the days leading up to your arrival in Austin–or if you are already in Austin, the days leading up to the first day of class–please limit your contact with others outside your household to reduce the likelihood that you will be exposed to or contract the virus. Additionally, if you have not received a COVID-19 vaccine or the booster, we recommend that you get your shot as soon as possible.
Thank you for doing your part to keep our community healthy.
Terrance Hines, M.D., FAAFP Executive Director & Chief Medical Officer, University Health Services
Amy Young, M.D. Vice Dean of Professional Practice, Dell Medical School Chief Clinical Officer, UT Health Austin