Covid-19 Testing FAQs

Answers to frequently asked questions about Covid-19 testing at Georgia Tech.

[Editor's Note: This page was reviewed and updated on April 19, 2021.]

FAQ

General Covid-19 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 depends heavily on support and participation from members of the campus community.

  • Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing Program
    All students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to undergo frequent testing as part of this program. 
    • Relying on saliva to obtain samples used to detect the virus, this program employs a dual pooling approach that combines samples from multiple individuals and tests them as a group in an on-campus lab.
    • Dual pooling dramatically increases the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.
    • Several testing sites are offered for asymptomatic Georgia Tech students, faculty and staff: Covid-19 Testing Locations and Hours.
  • Symptomatic Student Testing
    Testing for currently enrolled students with Covid-19 symptoms is available at the Stamps Health Center.

 

Will I still need to be tested for Covid-19 while I am in the process of receiving the first and second doses of the vaccine?

Yes. Routine testing is recommended for individuals undergoing vaccination as well as after they are fully inoculated. Learn more about campus testing sites and hours.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also recommends that individuals who have been vaccinated for Covid-19 still need to practice mitigation strategies to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing a mask, social distancing, and diligent handwashing.


 

Will I still need to be tested for Covid-19 after I receive both doses and am fully inoculated?

Updated March 9, 2021

Recent guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that fully inoculated individuals should still watch out for symptoms of Covid-19, especially if they have been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of Covid-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others.

The new CDC guidelines still recommend testing for fully vaccinated employees of non-healthcare, high-density settings and workplaces (such as campuses), following an exposure and through routine workplace screening programs. The CDC also recommends other prevention steps (wearing a mask, social distancing, diligent handwashing) to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, even as vaccines are being distributed.

Georgia Tech is committed to the safety of the campus community. As Georgia Tech continues to roll out vaccines to eligible campus community members, we encourage everybody to continue participating in the campus surveillance testing program. Learn more about campus testing sites and hours.


 

Can the Covid-19 vaccine cause my Covid test result to read positive when I do not have Covid?

No, the Covid-19 vaccine cannot give you Covid-19 and cannot cause a false-positive PCR (such as Georgia Tech's surveillance testing) or antigen Covid test result used for diagnosing acute infection. It is possible that the vaccine could result in a positive test for Covid antibodies.


 

FAQ

Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing

How long before I know the results of my Covid-19 surveillance test?

Results from tests processed on campus are typically available within 48 hours.


 

How will I find out my Covid-19 surveillance test 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 noreply-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.


 

What is Covid-19 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.


 

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 “dual pooling” testing?

Dual pooling combines samples from multiple individuals and tests them as a group. Dual pooling dramatically increases the number of community members that can be sampled with a single coronavirus test.

Learn how dual pooling works.


 

What’s the difference between “diagnostic” and “surveillance” Covid-19 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.

 

Why are we testing students and employees for Covid-19?

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 for Covid-19?

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


 

Where do I go to get tested for Covid-19?

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 at a surveillance testing site?

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 surveillance testing site?

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.


 

How long does it take to self-administer the Covid-19 test?

Just a few minutes.


 

What do I need to bring with me to the Covid-19 testing site?

Please be sure to bring your cell phone with you.


 

How often can I be tested for Covid-19 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 Covid-19 testing on campus?

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


 

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FAQ

Symptomatic Covid-19 Testing

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

  • Students: Make an appointment with Stamps Health Services at health.gatech.edu. Let them know you are experiencing Covid-19-related symptoms when scheduling.
  • Postdoctoral Researchers: Those on the Student Health Insurance Plan will receive free testing at Stamps Health Services.
  • Staff/Faculty: Make an appointment with your primary care provider or refer to the state’s information resource for testing.

 

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 in the Campus Guidelines: If You Get Sick.

Positive cases should be reported to Stamps Health Services. If a person received a test at Stamps or through the CLIA-certified surveillance testing on campus, that will happen automatically. Students and employees who utilize non-Georgia Tech-sponsored testing will be required to notify Stamps Health Services of the positive result through an online portal.

If a student tests positive, the student should isolate at their permanent home if possible. If the student lives in on-campus housing and cannot return home, Georgia Tech will provide a space for the student to isolate until the student meets criteria for ending isolation. If the student lives in off-campus housing, the student will need to isolate in their off-campus residence. Students in isolation and quarantine will be followed up by medical staff on a regular basis to monitor their welfare and progress. They will also have access to meal delivery.  

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. 


 

FAQ

Contact Tracing and Notification

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” when prompted, or at the top of the Settings page. 

  • NOVID anonymously detects nearby users to build a web of people connected to you. If any of them reports an exposure or positive test result, you will receive a notification through the NOVID app. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • If a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is contacted by a contact tracer, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones within their network. 
  • 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 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 and at novid.org. 

 

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.  

Persons being alerted that Covid-19 is in their network are encouraged to keep a close eye on their NOVID app and take proper precautions to avoid contracting Covid-19, including following all campus protocols. 


 

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

If a person received a test at Stamps or through the CLIA-certified surveillance testing on campus, positive results will automatically be reported to Stamps Health Services.

Students and employees who utilize non-Georgia Tech-sponsored testing will be required to notify Stamps Health Services of their positive result through an online portal. All test results reporting will be conducted in compliance with HIPAA and other privacy regulations.

Optional Covid-19 Radar App 
Georgia Tech is using NOVID, a pandemic radar app that will help students, staff, and faculty get ahead of the spread of the coronavirus. NOVID is the only app that notifies you before you’ve been exposed to the virus so you can take the necessary precautions to avoid getting sick. 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

First, download the NOVID app from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. Enter the community code “JACKETS” when prompted, or at the top of the Settings page. 

  • NOVID anonymously detects nearby users to build a web of people connected to you. If any of them reports an exposure or positive test result, you will receive a notification through the NOVID app. 
  • 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. 
  • 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. 
  • If a student has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is contacted by a contact tracer, they will be given a one-time code that they can enter into the app, which will send a notification to other phones within their network. 
  • 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 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 and at novid.org.