Testing

Image of woman in lab wearing protective equipment

As part of Ohio State’s plans to return to on-campus operations in autumn, the university is implementing a testing program based on recommendations from the Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup and guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. The university continues to refine, improve and expand its testing efforts because they are a critical component of a safe and healthy return to on-campus operations.

The university will continuously monitor conditions in the campus community by testing for the prevalence of COVID-19 in the university population to inform decision making. Regular testing also identifies people with COVID-19 who do not have symptoms, preventing further spread of the disease on campus and in the broader community.

Importantly, testing enables robust contact tracing, which will help further interrupt transmission of the virus by confirming that exposed individuals are quarantined and tested. Vigilance in testing and contact tracing will put university leaders in the best position possible to make informed decisions about community health and safety, and adjust safety measures as needed.

Multi-pronged strategy

All residential students were required to take a COVID-19 test as part of the move-in process. Students received instructions about testing locations at their university email accounts from the Office of Student Life. Questions about this process can be sent to: SHS-covidtesting@osu.edu.

Ohio State’s surveillance testing program consists of mandatory weekly testing of all students at all ranks who live in residence halls or university-managed housing coupled with regular testing of samples of asymptomatic undergraduate, graduate and professional students who live off campus. Students are notified via their university email account when they have been selected for the surveillance testing.

  • University-Managed Housing Testing: On a weekly basis, students living in university-managed housing are required to complete a COVID-19 saliva test. Testing will take place on all Ohio State campuses for those in university-managed housing and is required for continued residence on-campus. More information on university-managed housing testing is available on the Student Health Services website.
  • Testing for undergraduate, graduate and professional students living off campus: Each week, the university selects a sample of undergraduate, graduate and professional Columbus-campus students, who are asked to take a COVID-19 diagnostic saliva test. Students are notified via their university email account when they have been selected for the surveillance testing. More information about surveillance testing for students on the Columbus campus is available on the Student Health Services website.

Failure of students to respond may result in a directive to quarantine until testing can be completed, loss of access to non-residential spaces and a report to Student Conduct. There will be no direct costs to students participating in surveillance testing.

For more information, visit the Student Health Services website.

Ohio State’s comprehensive testing strategy also allows for:

  • Voluntary testing of asymptomatic faculty and staff;
  • Targeted testing if COVID-19 hotspots are identified;
  • Sharing of aggregate information in a way that protects individuals’ medical and educational privacy;
  • Keeping university leaders and the public up to date about the virus’s spread and informing decision making throughout the semester.

In addition to surveillance testing, students, faculty and staff with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should contact their local primary care provider (PCP) for a health assessment and direction. Students who do not have a PCP should contact Ohio State Student Health Services. Faculty and staff members who do not have a PCP should contact The Ohio State University COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000.

Should there ever be a shortage of testing supplies, symptomatic individuals and members of at-risk or vulnerable populations will remain the highest priority for testing.

Compliance with testing, isolation and quarantine procedures is expected as one of the conditions of returning to campus.

Voluntary testing

Employees

As part of Ohio State’s comprehensive testing strategy, asymptomatic faculty and staff may volunteer for a COVID-19 test.

  • Faculty and staff should contact the university’s COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000 to arrange the scheduling of a test at an Ohio State swabbing station.
  • The total number of voluntary COVID-19 tests on any given day will be limited, so individuals interested in a voluntary test may be asked to schedule your COVID-19 test on a later date.
  • After your specimen is collected, you are required to self-quarantine and may not return to campus for school, work or other community activities until your test result is available. This time frame may vary, but most results should be available between 48 and 72 hours after the specimen is collected. This brief self-quarantine is required out of an abundance of caution because it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms.
  • Self-quarantine should be coordinated with a supervisor, instructor or Human Resources Business Partner, and those who are able to telework or complete coursework online should do so. Those unable to work off-site must take personal or unpaid leave or vacation, as applicable, during the self-quarantine period.
  • If the test is positive, continue to isolate yourself from others, and follow university guidance for contact tracing and isolation. If the test is negative, you may return to work, school and other community activities.

Should there ever be a shortage of testing supplies, symptomatic individuals and members of at-risk or vulnerable populations will remain the highest priority for testing.

Students

Students can be voluntarily tested at Student Health Services’ Wilce Student Health Center. Testing is available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (except for the 2nd Friday of each month, opening at 9:30 a.m.). Making an appointment is preferred to maintain physical distancing and reduce student wait times.

  • Schedule via My BuckMD
  • Select appointment reason, COVID Voluntary.
  • This will not create an appointment with a provider, rather sign the student up for an assigned testing time.
  • Students do not need to enter the facility upon arrival, rather follow the Scarlet signs/Red Tents.

Note: If you are unable to schedule via My BuckMD, please try these tips:

  • Switch browser to Google Chrome (most up-to-date version)
  • Clear browsing history
  • Conduct from a laptop or desktop

After your specimen is collected, you are required to self-quarantine in your residence and may not return to normal campus activities until your test result is available. This time frame may vary, but most results should be available between 2-3 business days after the specimen is collected. This brief self-quarantine is required out of an abundance of caution because it is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms.

What to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been exposed

Employees 

  • Contact your primary care provider (PCP) for health assessment and direction.
  • If you do not have a PCP, contact The Ohio State University COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000 to assess the need for testing and to arrange a COVID-19 test if indicated.
  • If your PCP advises that you should have a COVID-19 test, contact The Ohio State University COVID Call Center at 614-293-4000 to arrange a COVID-19 test.
  • If an Ohio State contact tracer determines that you have been exposed as a close contact to someone who is infected with COVID-19, you will be contacted by the team and advised about quarantine and testing.

 

Students

  • Contact your local primary care provider (PCP) for a health assessment and direction.
  • If you do not have a local PCP, please schedule a telehealth appointment with Ohio State Student Health Services (SHS) with via My BuckMD and select COVID Symptoms as appointment reason.
  • If an Ohio State contact tracer determines that you have been exposed as a close contact to someone who is infected with COVID-19, you will be contacted by the team and advised about quarantine and testing.

Pooled testing

To ensure the university is a good steward of the limited reagents and equipment available for testing, multiple steps are being taken to reduce the use of supplies. The university is partnering with the Wexner Medical Center and third-party provider Vault to work toward the use of “pooled” testing, whereby multiple samples from five to 10 individuals can be evaluated for COVID-19 in a single test.

Specimen pooling allows for more people to be tested quickly using fewer resources. The samples collected are tested in a pool or “batch” using one test, rather than testing each individual sample. If the pool is negative, then all tests in the pool are considered negative. If the pool is positive, one or more of the individuals tested in that pool may be infected, and each of the samples in that pool is tested again individually.

Because the samples are pooled, far fewer tests are run overall, meaning fewer testing supplies are used and more tests can be run simultaneously.


Please reference this website for the most up-to-date guidelines. The university’s COVID-19 Transition Task Force’s Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup will continue monitoring changing conditions and consult with local and state health authorities. Recommendations and requirements will be refined as needed.