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How it Works: COVID-19 Testing at American University

This semester has come with new guidelines and procedures for student COVID-19 testing. All residential students and athletes are expected to test twice a week, faculty coming to campus are required to test at least once a week, students coming to campus weekly are required to test weekly and students visiting campus periodically are required to get tested in the week that they visit campus. All of this as well as a few special exceptions are outlined on American University’s testing procedures website.

Testing hours vary from week to week so it is important to check back regularly to see when testing clinics are occurring. For the time being, there are clinics five days a week for students living both on and off campus this semester. During clinic hours, students living in the DMV area are welcome to get tested free of charge even if they do not have a regular campus presence. 

On campus testing for off campus students is only available for asymptomatic students. If students living on campus are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms they should contact the Student Health Center regarding appointment scheduling.

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Testing for asymptomatic students is currently located in Constitution Hall. American University has recently switched over to a PCR saliva test. This test will show if COVID-19 is active in the body but will not tell someone if they have previously had COVID.

Before getting tested, it is important not to eat, drink, chew gum, smoke, vape or brush your teeth for an hour before your test. If you do one of these things you will be unable to take your test and your tests will be inconclusive or invalid.

When coming to the testing clinic, you will be asked your name, if you are an on campus resident or athlete, and then be handed your testing materials. If you are living off campus, you still have to wait in line but your name will not be recorded.

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After collecting your testing materials you will be directed to wait in a line for an available testing table. After arriving at a table, there will be a QR code for you to scan. This code will direct you to a login screen where you will either log in or create an account. The website directs students to type in the code located on the testing tube. This is how students' tests are tied back to them. 

Once prompted, students will spit into a tube until it fills the tube up to a black line. It is okay if there are bubbles in the tube but they do need to be above the black line. All steps are further outlined in the directions on your mobile device.

Once you finish spitting into the tube, you will take off the cone on the top of the vial and replace it with a vial filled with blue liquid. You will be directed to turn the vial until it clicks. When it does so, the liquid will be released and you will shake the tube for 5-10 seconds. After, you will place your sample in the bag provided to you and walk to the check-out table.

When you arrive at the checkout table, you will be directed to click the sign out button. If you do not click this button, your sample results will not be returned to you. After you will drop your results into a bag, grab hand sanitizer, and you are good to go!

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You will receive an email when your sample arrives at the lab and when your results are ready. It will take approximately 48-72 hours for your results to be returned to you.

On campus testing is easy, quick, and free for all American University students; the most difficult part is filling the tube with saliva after not eating or drinking for an hour. I strongly urge all students living nearby to take advantage of this testing opportunity.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4

Photo Credit: Her Campus Media Library 

Gabrielle (she/her/hers) is a sophomore at American University majoring in elementary education and minoring in Spanish. She has been a writer since Fall 2020 and is the publishing director for our print magazine for Fall 2021. In her free time, she enjoys working with children and supporting diverse learners.
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