Aug. 12: What to expect when you get tested for COVID-19 at Bates

The college’s COVID-19 testing program begins with Bates employees the week of Aug. 16 then turns to students, all of whom will be tested as they arrive at scheduled times between Aug. 25 and 27.

The Bates Testing Center will be at Underhill Arena.

“As you can imagine, there are many details and logistics involved in getting the Bates Testing Center up and running,” said Nick Cooke, assistant athletic director for athletic performance and, since early summer, director of the testing center.

“And we’ve had tremendous help all across campus with this heavy lift.”

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.

Importantly, says Cooke, “Bates is using what’s known as an anterior nasal swab test.” It’s far less invasive than other tests. “You hear about another test that feels like it tickles the back of your brain. That’s not what we’re doing here.”

This video offers a look at the testing process that students and employees will follow:

The testing process at Underhill has been compared to how one arrives at the airport for a flight. “It will have a one-way, TSA-style traffic flow with stanchions and floor markings to facilitate physical distancing,” says Cooke.

Employees and students will move to one of up to 12 registration stations, where Bates staff, protected by plastic shields, will check photo IDs, print a unique barcode, place it onto a test tube, and hand it to the student or employee.

“We have our first 10,000 tests on campus. We are positioned very well to test.”

Then, the person being tested will move to one of 12 collection rooms. “That’s where an observed self-swap will occur, to ensure proper technique,” Cooke says. “And that’s where collection of the test occurs.” The tests will be observed by medical professionals, specifically medical assistants and certified nursing assistants, overseen by a registered nurse.

From there, the tested person moves to a one-way exit. “We’re using the sheer space of Underhill and our scheduling to ensure that we don’t have people in close proximity to one another for any length of time,” Cooke says.

Besides ease of use, the Broad test has a strong supply chain, says Cooke. “There are stories in the news about supply-chain issues with some tests. We want to reiterate that this test specifically uses materials that Broad has either stockpiled in mass quantities or are very easily sourced.”

In fact, Cooke says, “we have our first 10,000 tests on campus. We are positioned very well to test.”

Students who test positive will move into isolation with followup support from Bates Health Services. Employees who test positive will receive followup support and guidance from Human Resources.