COVID-19 Testing Information for Students

All students studying on the Bates campus in fall 2020 will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival on campus and again three days later. For this initial testing, students will be assigned a testing window that corresponds with their assigned arrival date. After this initial testing, students will be tested twice weekly throughout the semester.

In addition, all faculty and staff will be asked to be tested for COVID-19 prior to student arrival, with follow-up testing as appropriate depending on such factors as the nature of the work they do and the extent of their contact with students. For information about faculty and staff testing, please see the Bates Human Resources page on COVID-19.

These FAQs address student testing for fall 2020:

What is the goal of COVID-19 testing?

Robust testing, along with contact tracing, are critical to maintaining the health and safety of the Bates community by limiting the number of cases we have on campus in the fall. By identifying asymptomatic individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and limiting their interactions with others, the college can mitigate on-campus transmission of COVID-19.

We have a testing strategy that 1) tests frequently and 2) detects relatively small viral loads. This strategy allow Bates to identify cases of COVID-19 on campus prior to their reaching their peak infectiousness period (i.e., period of communicability). 

Must I participate in testing?

Yes. All students studying on campus in the fall will be required to participate in the testing protocol. This requirement includes students living in off-campus housing and students who may be commuting. Students who refuse to participate in the testing program will not be allowed to be on campus or to use any on-campus services. These students must study remotely and take all courses virtually.

What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

If you test positive for COVID-19, we have a detailed plan to prevent further transmission on campus as well as support you during an isolation period:

  1.  A medical provider from Bates Health Services will contact you to notify you of your positive test.
  2. Residence Life will contact you, so you can temporarily move to isolation housing.
  3.  A Bates contact tracer will contact you to identify who you have been in close contact with.
  4. The Maine CDC may reach out to you to discuss the importance of staying in isolation, and do their own contact tracing.
  5. Any of your close contacts identified through contact tracing will be required to follow in-room quarantine protocol until they are tested and get results. If positive, they’ll then move to isolation. If negative, students follow quarantine for 14 days.

Note: Per CDC guidance, students who test positive for COVID-19 will remain in isolation housing for 10 days (or longer if symptoms develop) and until cleared by a medical provider. Development of symptoms could increase the isolation period because individuals with symptoms can actively transmit the virus.

In addition, per CDC guidance students who are diagnosed with COVID-19 will be temporarily removed from the testing program for 90 days as they may continue to test positive for the virus even though they cannot transmit the virus. Students are no longer considered “active cases” after the isolation period and cleared by a medical provider.

Where will the testing be administered and when will the center be open?

The on-campus Bates College Testing Center will be at Underhill Arena. No other activities will be allowed in this building. Here are the likely times and days for the Testing Center:

 7:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday

Should I go to the Testing Center if I am feeling sick with possible COVID-19 symptoms?

If you are feeling sick with COVID-19 like symptoms on the day of your scheduled test, please do not come to the Testing Center; the reason for this is to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a space where many campus community members travel per day, the Testing Center. 

If I can’t go to the Testing Center then what should I do?

Please call Bates Health Services at 207-786-6199 for assessment and further instructions.

What can I expect when I arrive at the Testing Center?

Per campus policy on universal face coverings, all individuals will be required to wear face coverings when coming to the Testing Center. In addition, the Testing Center has been designed to allow six feet between individuals. Staff at the Testing Center will wear face coverings and other personal protective equipment (PPE) as appropriate.

There are a few quick and easy steps to the COVID-19 testing process at the Bates Testing Center:

  • Prior to entering the Testing Center, clear your nose at the nose blowing station located outside of the Testing Center. 
  • Following blowing your nose, immediately sanitize your hands.
  • Enter the testing center 
  • Scan your Bate ID upon entering the testing center.
  • Proceed to the registration tables.
  • Complete a brief registration, confirming your identity. At that time, you will be given a sterile swab and a specimen tube labeled with your name and date of birth.
  • Once called over by a member of the Testing Center team,  proceed to a space to perform your own swab under the observation of a medical assistant or other appropriately trained staff member.
  • Depart the testing center, and please sanitize your hands as you exit
This video shows how you will collect your nasal swab sample at the Bates Testing Center.

How long will testing take?

Once individuals are familiar with the testing protocols, we anticipate that the entire testing process for each individual will take less than 15 minutes. This time may vary slightly based upon how many other individuals arrive at the same time for testing.  

How is testing scheduled?

Students will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival on campus and again three days later. For this initial testing, students will be assigned a testing time and day that corresponds with their assigned arrival date.

After this initial testing, students will be tested twice weekly throughout the semester.

During in-semester testing, students will be assigned to one of two testing groups based upon their campus residence.

Group A tests on Mondays and Wednesdays

Group B tests on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Students will be able to self-schedule their testing time block on each day. Students are required to arrive at the testing center at their scheduled time. Students arriving out of schedule will not be tested and will be asked to return to the testing center at their scheduled time.

What happens if I miss my scheduled testing time?

Students who miss their scheduled testing time will need to report to the Testing Center at 7:30 a.m. the following day to be tested. If you fail to report for testing on Thursday, you will be expected to test Monday morning at 7:30 a.m. 

Given how important testing is to our COVID-19 management strategy, please remember that you must comply with this testing program. This includes showing up for your scheduled testing times and being tested twice per week. Failure to do so is a violation of the Public Health Agreement. Students who miss more than two scheduled tests will be referred to student conduct, switched to remote learning, and will return home. While these measures may seem excessive, they are necessary to ensure the health and wellbeing of the Bates community.

How and when will I get my results?

Students can expect to get results of their test within 48 hours. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be notified by Bates Health Services. Those who test negative will see their results via an on-line portal.

Who is notified of my positive result?

The following individual/organizations will be informed of all individuals testing positive for COVID-19:

  • Bates Testing Center Director
  • Bates Testing Center Registered Nurse
  • Bates Health Services
  • Bates Contact Tracing Team
  • Central Maine Medical Center
  • Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention

What happens if my test result is not processed or returned as invalid?

If you receive your test results and they are returned as either Test Not Processed (TNP) or Invalid, then you will receive an email from the testing center alerting you of your unprocessed or invalid test. Individuals who have a TNP or invalid test are expected to test the following morning at 7:30 a.m.. If your TNP or invalid result occurs on Thursday, then you will retest on Monday morning. After you have retested, you should return to your normal testing schedule days. Individuals failing to retest will be referred to the Student Code of Conduct Process for failure to comply with the testing protocol.

Will my insurance be billed for the testing?

No. Bates College is paying for all testing at the Bates Testing Center.  

Who is doing the testing?

Bates has contracted with the Clinical Research Sequencing Platform at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard for the testing kits and processing of all tests. Bates will provide staffing for the center. As mentioned above, individuals will self-administer the swab under observation.

What test is being used?

The Bates Testing Center will use a RT-PCR test that is a high throughput version of the CDC 2019-nCoV Realtime RT-PCR test.

This test uses nasal swabs in the lower nasal cavity (anterior nares swabs) and differs from the more uncomfortable test involving a swab placed deeply into the upper nasal cavity (nasopharyngeal swabs). This test allows individuals to administer the swab themselves while under observation and supervision. The swab is placed into a tube without liquid to allow the laboratory more flexibility in getting the most material off the swab for testing purposes.

Using this swabbing method, the Broad CRSP v2 assay is validated with a LoD of 1,600 copies/mL. For context, a study published in The Lancet found the median viral load in COVID-19 positive patients at presentation to be 158,489 copies/mL. In other words, this testing protocol is highly sensitive to the presence of the virus.

What do I do if I feel ill and think I might have COVID-19?

Any student who feels ill and thinks they might have COVID-19 should remain in their room and contact Bates Health Service immediately. Symptomatic individuals will receive further instructions and care from the medical staff at BHS. 

Ill individuals should not come to the Testing Center. The Testing Center will only test individuals who are asymptomatic.