Yale updates fall COVID-19 testing protocols for students

Yale Health building
(Photo credit: Dan Renzetti)

Yale has announced revised COVID-19 testing requirements for students returning to campus for the fall semester, based on the latest information about the spread of the virus, emerging public health and scientific findings, and guidance from government officials.

The updated testing policies include both pre-arrival and at-arrival testing, as well as ongoing screening of asymptomatic individuals during the semester. Undergraduate students who are enrolled in residence and graduate and professional students living in high-density dormitory housing will be screened twice each week, up from once weekly.

Yale notified students of the policy updates by email on July 28.

The frequency of required testing in this program reflects an analysis of testing protocols that would be most likely to limit the rapid spread of the infection,” Dr. Stephanie Spangler, vice provost for health affairs and academic integrity, said in the emails.

Yale’s asymptomatic testing program uses an observed, self-administered swab in the front of the nostrils for specimen collection. Specimens are tested by viral (PCR) analysis.

Yale announced July 1 that graduate and professional school students and a portion of the undergraduate population were invited to return to campus for the fall semester. Classes for Yale College and the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences start Aug. 31. Classes for other Yale schools start in August or during the week of Aug. 31.

Undergraduates

All undergraduates enrolled in residence — whether they plan to live on campus or in off-campus housing — are required to have a viral (PCR) test no more than 14 days before arriving on campus. Yale Health will email students instructions for obtaining the test, which will be paid for by Yale.

If a student’s pre-arrival test is positive, the student should seek medical advice and isolate in their “home” location for at least 10 days, and at least 24 hours after the resolution of a fever. They should not travel to New Haven but should begin their studies remotely. 

Students who are traveling to the university from certain states may be subject to additional State of Connecticut requirements that could affect pre-arrival testing and could also require them to quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut. Information about these state requirements may be found here.

Upon arrival at Yale, all undergraduates who are enrolled in residence — whether living on campus or in off-campus housing — must have a viral (PCR) test. Students must quarantine in their residences until a negative test result is received. In August, students will receive an email with a full description of the testing program and instructions on how to obtain arrival testing.

Students must be prepared for a possible 14-day quarantine should the state require it.

During the fall semester, all undergraduates who are enrolled in residence must be tested twice weekly. The university will send students a full description of the testing program, with instructions on how to schedule testing, later in August.

Graduate and professional school students

Graduate and professional students who will be living in high-density dormitory housing — Helen Hadley Hall or Harkness Hall — are required to have a viral (PCR) test no more than 14 days before arriving on campus. Students will receive a follow-up email with a full description of the testing program and instructions on how to obtain pre-arrival testing.

The university strongly urges all students who do not plan to live in Helen Hadley Hall or Harkness Hall to have a viral (PCR) test no more than 14 days before arrival.

Yale will reimburse the cost of the pre-arrival test up to $120.

If the pre-arrival test is positive, the student should seek medical advice and isolate in their “home” location for at least 10 days and at least 24 hours following resolution of a fever. Students with a positive test should not travel to New Haven but should begin their studies remotely.

Graduate and professional students traveling to the university from out of state may be subject to additional State of Connecticut requirements. These may affect pre-arrival testing and may also require students to quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut. Out-of-state students are urged to consult Connecticut travel requirements.

Upon arrival, graduate and professional students must have a viral (PCR) test. Students will receive an email from their academic programs with a timeline and instructions for scheduling tests.

Arriving students must quarantine in their residences until they receive a negative test result.

Students coming from a state covered by Connecticut travel restrictions must be prepared for a 14-day quarantine should the state require it.

Graduate and professional students already on campus must have a viral (PCR) test through the university testing program prior to the start of the semester. Students who were tested prior to July 13, 2020, in accordance with the resumption of fuller on-campus research, must have a repeat test within 14 days of the start of the fall semester.

Ongoing screening for graduate and professional students will work as follows: Students living in Helen Hadley Hall and Harkness Hall must be tested twice a week. These students will receive an email in August with a full description of the testing program and instructions for scheduling testing.

Students who do not live in high-density dormitory housing are not required to be retested, but may obtain additional testing on a voluntary basis, up to once per week — especially if they have concerns about exposure.

Students with questions about asymptomatic testing may call the COVID Campus Resource Line, which is staffed by health care professionals, at (203) 432-6604.

Contact tracing

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students who test positive through the university testing program will be referred for contact tracing and required to isolate in their residences until released by Yale Health. Medical monitoring and advice will be provided by Yale Health during isolation.

University officials said the testing program is intended to detect infection in asymptomatic individuals and does not replace Yale’s testing and care protocols for individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19.

Voluntary testing will also be available to asymptomatic individuals who have concerns that they may have been exposed to the virus.

Compliance with testing, contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine is a component of Yale’s Community Compact, which all students must review, sign, and follow. The compact reflects Yale’s strong and shared commitment to promote the health and safety of all community members.

All members of the Yale community must also abide by other public health and safety measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 viral transmission on campus and in the New Haven community. These measures include wearing a face covering, social distancing, and regular hand washing.

The health and safety of our students is of paramount importance,” said Provost Scott Strobel. “Using the best available data and expertise, we are doing everything we can to meet the requirements for safely welcoming students onto campus for the fall semester — and for keeping them and the Yale community healthy. Together, we will continue Yale’s mission of excellence in teaching, learning, and research.”

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Part of the In Focus Collection: Yale responds to COVID-19

Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222