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UPDATED SEPTEMBER 21, 2020
Earlier this week, we shared some initial information about campuswide Covid-19 testing for both asymptomatic and symptomatic students, faculty, and staff. Our goal was to give you an overview of what to expect for testing, contact tracing, and exposure notifications. We committed to sharing more details about testing options as the information became available. Today, we want to outline all of the testing options we’ll be providing to the campus community during the fall semester.
Below you’ll find details about:
- Free surveillance testing that will allow us to test as many as 1,500 asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff daily.
- Free diagnostic testing options for symptomatic students, faculty, and staff.
- Contact tracing and notification.
- Key dates, locations, and contact information for all testing, tracing, and notification operations.
Georgia Tech is taking an aggressive, multi-pronged approach for limiting the spread of the coronavirus on campus, a strategy that will depend heavily on support and participation from members of the campus community.
Most importantly, practicing social distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing, and adhering to all campus health and safety guidelines are the best ways to slow the spread of the virus.
Within this context, testing and contact tracing protocols are important tools to help limit the virus transmission rate. Tech researchers representing varied disciplines and expertise are leading the Institute’s science-based efforts and have been the principal architects of Tech’s testing plans.
Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing
Georgia Tech will launch a two-part, campus-based coronavirus testing program on August 8 that will rely on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus. The goal will be to test as many as 1,500 asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff daily.
All tests are free of charge.
The first part of Georgia Tech’s strategy uses a surveillance program, which will rely on a pooled testing approach that will combine samples from multiple individuals and test them as a group. Pooled testing will dramatically increase the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.
If a pooled sample tests positive for coronavirus, the second part of the strategy will be follow-up diagnostic testing — to identify the person or persons who test positive for coronavirus. Follow-up diagnostic testing will be conducted in Georgia Tech’s CLIA-certified laboratory. Follow-up diagnostic testing may require the administration of a second test. Individuals will be notified if they are recommended for a second test.
This approach will allow regular sampling of the Georgia Tech community with the goal of identifying silent carriers before they have the opportunity to transmit the coronavirus, and help them find medical support early.
Getting Tested Regularly
The success of this coronavirus surveillance approach will depend on asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff getting tested regularly. Broad testing is essential, and we will be encouraging everyone to actively participate.
Testing is done on a walk-up basis. Before each visit to one of the testing sites on campus, participants should login to mytest.gatech.edu with their GT account, complete the survey, and save the tracking barcode to their phone.
Participants will place a saliva sample into a small plastic cup, then draw a sample into a pipette. The samples will then be transferred to a vial containing a viral inactivation buffer, packaged, and sent to Georgia Tech’s testing lab. Surveillance processing will be completed within 48 hours.
Participants with a positive diagnostic test will be informed about what to do next, including isolation, support resources, and medical care. Because of federal and state requirements, all participants will be asked to provide limited personal information at the time of testing.
How it works:
Before each visit, login to mytest.gatech.edu with your GT account, complete the survey, and save the tracking barcode to your phone.
Go to one of the surveillance testing sites on campus: Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours
You’ll be given a testing kit and instructions on how to use it.
Place a saliva sample into the plastic cup, draw a sample into the pipette, add saliva to the vial, and replace the cap.
Write your initials on the vial, place it in the biohazard bag, then leave the sample for testing.
You'll receive, within 48 hours, a notification email that you're either recommended or not recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test.
All students, faculty, and staff will be encouraged to undergo frequent testing. Regular notifications will be sent with testing reminders.
According to Dr. Ben Holton, senior director of Stamps Health Services:
“It is very important that we make testing a regular part of campus life this fall. Staying safe means identifying and controlling asymptomatic spread, and all of us have a responsibility to contribute by participating in the testing program.”
Other Diagnostic Testing at Georgia Tech
Asymptomatic Students, Faculty, and Staff
As noted above, we have established a logistics network that will make free, walk-up asymptomatic testing for students and employees available in locations convenient to residence halls and other sites across campus, starting with Bobby Dodd Stadium (Poland Family Gate) and the Curran Street Parking Deck. Samples will then be delivered to the lab for testing.
In addition to this surveillance testing program run by the CLIA-certified lab, the following will also be part of our campus testing program:
- Vault Health Covid test kits will be used as re-rentry testing for Housing and Facilities custodial staff, business-related travel certification, and supplemental testing as needed throughout the semester.
- A Fulton County walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot will also be available to symptomatic and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff at no cost on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning August 18 and continuing through September 10.
- Testing for students with Covid-19 symptoms is already available at Stamps Health Services at no cost, and that will continue.
- Any currently enrolled Georgia Tech student who is showing symptoms should contact Stamps immediately.
Symptomatic Staff and Faculty
- Symptomatic employees are asked to make an appointment with their primary care providers or refer to the state’s information resource for testing.
- Symptomatic employees may also seek free testing at the Fulton County walk-up site to be located at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot on Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning August 18 and continuing through September 10.
Contact Tracing and Notification
Contact tracing and notification programs are being built by our teams, in conjunction with the GDPH.
Through the program, Georgia Tech will make initial rapid notifications of close contacts in the Georgia Tech community based on information gathered from the individual who tests positive. A close contact is anyone who was within 6 feet of the person who tested positive for 15 or more minutes, anyone who had physical contact with the person, or anyone who was coughed or sneezed on by the person. The Georgia Department of Public Health will conduct contact tracing with support from Georgia Tech.
Assigned seating and attendance taking will be helpful strategies to assist contact tracing and notification with classroom exposures. However, the implementation of social distancing within our classroom spaces will minimize the need to make notifications within a classroom.
- August 8: Surveillance testing lab registration page opened.
- August 8: Bobby Dodd Stadium (Poland Family Gate) and Curran Street Parking Deck test sites opened for asymptomatic walk-up surveillance testing.
- August 18: Fulton County testing site opens.
Where to Get More Information
Where do I go to get tested if I am symptomatic?
Make an appointment with Stamps Health Services. Let them know you are experiencing Covid-19-related symptoms when scheduling.
- Postdoctoral Researchers
Those on the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) will receive free testing at Stamps Health Services.
- Staff and Faculty
Make an appointment with your primary care provider or refer to the state’s information resource for testing.
- Entire Campus Community
Fulton County will host a walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot. It will be available to symptomatic and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff on Tuesdays and Thursdays from August 18 to September 10.
- Walk-ups at the Fulton County testing site will be served, but registration and pre-screening is strongly encouraged.
- Entire Campus Community
Asymptomatic testing sites have been set up on campus at Bobby Dodd Stadium (Poland Family Gate) and the Curran Street Parking Deck. Samples are tested on campus and processed within 48 hours. Complete the one-time registration before your first visit.
- If you feel you’ve been exposed, you can use this decision tree to help you plan your next steps.
Tech Moving Forward
For the most up-to-date information on all things related to the return to campus during the pandemic, please visit Tech Moving Forward. We will continue to share details about testing and tracing resources and will distribute a simple-to-follow flow chart and location ahead of the start of classes.
Our goal is to welcome you back as safely as possible and to offer as many resources as possible to protect our campus community.