Testing Frequently Asked Questions

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on October 6, 2020.

General Testing

What kind of Covid-19 testing is available on campus?

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.

  • Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing Program – Relying on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus, this program will employ a pooled testing approach that will combine samples from multiple individuals and test them as a group in an on-campus lab. Pooled testing will dramatically increase the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test. All students, faculty, and staff will be encouraged to undergo frequent testing as part of this program.
  • Testing is done on a walk-up basis. Before each visit, login to mytest.gatech.edu with your GT account, complete the survey, and save the tracking barcode to your phone. 
  • Please visit Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing for more information.
  • Tests for Symptomatic Students – Testing for currently enrolled students with Covid-19 symptoms is already available at the Stamps Health Center.
  • Please visit What's Different at Stamps for Fall 2020 for Covid-19 testing details and instructions.
  • Fulton County Walk-up Testing (through October 1) ­– A Fulton County walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot is available to symptomatic and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff at no cost on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October 1.
  • All individuals who want to be tested at the Fulton County testing site are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment. Visit the GDPH website or call the Fulton County Covid-19 hotline at 404.613.8150 to complete the online registration and schedule an appointment.

Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing

Why are we testing students and employees?

The Georgia Tech Covid-19 surveillance testing effort 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.

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. 

If I’m well, should I be tested?

Yes. The Covid-19 surveillance testing program is for asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff. 

Where do I go to get tested?

Please visit Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours for the most up-to-date information.

Do I have to make an appointment or pre-register to get tested?

No. Testing is done on a walk-up basis. Before each visit, login to mytest.gatech.edu with your GT account, complete the survey, and save the tracking barcode to your phone. 

What should I expect when I go to get tested?

At a testing site, you will obtain a test kit containing a sample vial, plastic cup, pipette, alcohol swab, and biosafety bag. You will spit into the cup, remove a saliva sample from the cup using the pipette, place the sample into the vial (which contains a viral inactivation buffer), cap the vial, and place it into the bag. After cleaning the biosafety bag’s seal with the alcohol swab, you will place the bag into a collection box.

Please visit Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing for more information.

How long does it take to self-administer the test?

Just a few minutes.

What do I need to bring with me to the testing site?

Please be sure to bring your BuzzCard and cell phone with you.

How often can I be tested on campus?

We suggest all students, faculty and staff get tested weekly. The success of this coronavirus surveillance approach will depend on asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff getting tested regularly.

Do I have to pay for testing on campus?

There is no cost for students, faculty, and staff participating in surveillance testing.

What is Georgia Tech’s testing capacity?

We plan to conduct up to 1,500 asymptomatic tests per day.

How long before I know the results of my test?

Results from tests processed on campus will be available within 48 hours on average.

How will I find out my results?

All individuals who participate in the surveillance testing program will receive a notification that they are either recommended or not recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test. Please add mytest@gatech.edu to your address book or email contacts list to avoid notifications being incorrectly filtered as spam.

Those individuals who are recommended for a follow-up diagnostic test will receive a notification that the lab intends to use the sample they already provided. In some cases, an individual may be asked to return to a collection site to provide a new sample which will be used for the follow-up diagnostic test.

Results from the diagnostic test will be communicated to the individual by Stamps Health Services.

I Have Been Exposed but am Asymptomatic

I’ve been exposed to Covid-19 but have no symptoms. What should I do?

A Fulton County walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking lot is available to symptomatic and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff on Tuesdays and Thursdays through September 10.  Walk-ups will be served, but registration and pre-screening is strongly encouraged at covid19.dph.ga.gov.

Please also refer to the Covid-19 Decision Tree to help you plan your next steps.

I Have Covid-19-Related Symptoms

I’ve developed Covid-19 symptoms. Where can I get tested?

A Fulton County walk-up testing site at the McCamish Pavilion parking is available to symptomatic and asymptomatic students, faculty, and staff on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October 1.  Walk-ups will be served, but registration and pre-screening is strongly encouraged at covid19.dph.ga.gov.

I have tested positive for Covid-19. What do I do?

If you test positive for Covid-19 or begin to have symptoms, please follow the steps outlined on the Isolation and Quarantine page.

Understanding Surveillance Testing

What is surveillance testing?

Surveillance testing provides quick test results and actionable information for Georgia Tech senior leadership to understand the change of the prevalence of Covid-19 over time across the Tech community. Surveillance testing will identify “silent carriers” who are positive and potentially transmitting the virus. In the end, this Covid-19 surveillance testing will ensure a safe Georgia Tech for everyone.

Please visit Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing for more information.

What kind of test will be used for the surveillance testing program?

Testing will use a validated, saliva-based PCR (molecular) SARS-Cov-2 virus test protocol and will be conducted in the Georgia Tech Molecular Evolution Core Laboratory.

What is “pooled” testing?

Pooled testing combines samples from multiple individuals and tests them as a group. Pooled testing will dramatically increase the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.

What’s the difference between “diagnostic” and “surveillance” testing?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines these kinds of tests this way:

  • Diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 is intended to identify occurrence at the individual level and is performed when there is a reason to suspect that an individual may be infected, such as having symptoms or suspected recent exposure, or to determine resolution of infection.
  • Surveillance testing is generally used to monitor for a community- or population-level occurrence, such as an infectious disease outbreak, or to characterize the occurrence once detected, such as looking at the incidence and prevalence of the occurrence. Surveillance testing is used to gain information at a population level, rather than an individual level.

Contact Tracing and Notification

What will happen if someone gets sick or shows symptoms? Will you notify their classmates/instructors/colleagues?

Positive cases should be reported to Stamps Health Services through this online portal.

Georgia Tech works in cooperation with the Georgia Department of Public Health to conduct contact tracing. Learn more about Contact Tracing.

You will be contacted by a member of the Georgia Tech contact notification team, who will do an initial case investigation to identify close contacts within the Georgia Tech community, and initiate notification of those contacts. You may also be contacted by contact tracers from the Georgia Department of Public Health for additional contact tracing.

A close contact is anyone who, for 15 or more minutes, was:

  • Within 6 feet of the person who tested positive, or
  • Had physical contact with the person, or
  • Was coughed or sneezed on by the person. 

In all cases, during the notification process, the identity of the person who tested positive will be kept confidential.

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.

If a faculty or staff member tests positive, the person should work with their supervisor to identify co-workers or other members of the Georgia Tech community who were close contacts during the infectious period. The contact notification team will work with an employee’s supervisor to provide notification of exposure to close contacts and to provide information to the Georgia Department of Public Health as a part of DPH’s contact tracing efforts. 

Optional Exposure Notification App
Georgia Tech has begun using NOVID, an exposure notification app that will help students, staff, and faculty be anonymously notified if they have potentially been exposed to Covid-19. Use of the app is voluntary, and it is available at no cost to members of the Georgia Tech community. Information about the app is available on the Covid Central portal.

Download the NOVID app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

How does the NOVID exposure notification app work?

First, download the NOVID app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Enter the community code “JACKETS” in the settings.

  • NOVID captures no personally identifiable information from users.
  • The app exchanges information with other phones also running the app. It records a frequently changing code to other devices so they can be alerted if necessary — but without sharing any personally identifiable information.
  • Pairs of code interactions are stored on the NOVID server for a limited period of time.
  • NOVID leverages a combination of ultrasound and Bluetooth technology to note other devices that are within 6 feet, and only if they remain that close for 15 minutes or more.
  • By briefly using the device’s microphone and measuring the time sound takes to travel, ultrasound can accurately measure the distance between devices. It does not record phones that may be nearby but on the other side of a wall, preventing notifications that may not truly involve exposure risk.
  • If a student receives a positive Covid-19 test at Stamps Health Services, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones the app has recorded as potential exposures.
  • Community members who have received positive tests elsewhere on campus or off campus are required, as part of public health regulations, to report this to Stamps Health Services. They will also receive an app notification code after they have contacted Stamps.
  • Researchers from the Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Software Assurance Branch have evaluated NOVID for privacy protections to make sure it doesn’t record personal information that could identify users — and for cybersecurity issues to make sure it protects the device.
  • More details about the NOVID app are available on the Covid Central portal.

What do I do if I get a notification through the NOVID app that I may have been exposed to Covid-19?

Persons being warned through NOVID of a potential exposure will be encouraged to isolate themselves, monitor for symptoms, and be tested for the virus. The app will provide directions for how to contact relevant campus services when alerting a user that they have potentially been exposed.

Where to Get More Information