COVID-19 Testing for Students without Symptoms

The University is now in the process of contacting random samples of undergraduate and graduate students to be tested for COVID-19. Students in a particular week's sample will receive a message from University Health & Counseling Services notifying them they need to come to the testing site in the track area of the Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center on a specific weekday. Participation in this surveillance testing is required for those who wish to be able to continue to live and/or learn on campus. 

Testing Process

Please bring a photo ID (driver’s license, passport, or CWRU ID) and have your emp ID number with you.

Your ID will be checked, and you will be asked to affirm that you have no symptoms of COVID-19 (see below) and have not had close contact with anyone known to have COVID-19 within the past 14 days. 

We are using a reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test that will performed on nasopharyngeal samples collected by medical staff. The samples will be transported to Cleveland Clinic for analysis.

As you know, we are asking all students to adhere to public health guidelines at all times. This is particularly important while you are awaiting test results. Please make sure to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands. 

What if a student is feeling ill on the day of testing?

If you are feeling ill or have any symptoms on move-in day, please DO NOT come to campus. Please call University Health Services to speak with the nurse on-call for medical advice. A provider will reach out to you shortly after the phone call (or the next day, if you have called in the evening) to arrange an evaluation and next steps.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Please also do not come to campus if you have been around someone with confirmed COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 10 days.

What will the test feel like?

The person conducting the test will insert a swab with a very soft brush on the end—kind of like a pipe cleaner—into your nostril and back toward your throat and twirl it around for a few seconds. The soft bristles will collect a sample of mucous and cells there for analysis. The swab has to go pretty far back to collect a good sample.

The body is not used to having an object in that area, though, so it creates a lot of very odd sensations. For one thing, it activates the lachrymal reflex, which means your eye will water. Most students don’t think the test is painful, but it is uncomfortable. The test is over in about 10 seconds.

When will results be available?

Health Services receives results within approximately 48 hours and then works to distribute them to students. Please know that our staff is working hard to distribute the results in a timely manner. Positive results will be communicated by phone, if at all possible. 

How will students receive results?

Results will be communicated through Students with positive test results will also be contacted by phone.

What if my test result is positive?

If your test result is positive, University Health and Counseling Services will reach out to discuss any symptoms you may have developed and help you through the process of moving into isolation. Students with positive tests will move into dedicated, on-campus isolation space. They will receive meals and medical, mental health, social, and academic support.

What about false positive results?

False positive results are certainly possible, but they are less likely with the type of test we are using.

What about a student’s risk of exposure while waiting for results?

As noted above, it is very important that students follow all of the public health guidelines—masks, social distancing, and hand-hygiene. Maintaining these practices represents the single best way for students to mitigate their risk of becoming infected—and of inadvertently infecting someone else while infected but still asymptomatic.

Please know that we consult frequently with public health and infectious disease experts here at CWRU and at our hospital partners. There are many different approaches to screening. We recognize that some students will be positive, and there may be some exposure while awaiting test results. However, the students we are testing are without symptoms or known exposures. Students who do have symptoms or exposures will be directed to be evaluated at our Health Service and appropriately isolated.

Testing is only available to students.