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.

Do I need to do anything prior to testing the first time?

Yes. All students will need to sign a consent-for-testing form prior to their arrival on campus. This document is available in the Garnet Gateway and directions were emailed to all students by Senior Associate Dean of Students Carl Steidel on July 20, 2020. 

How do I schedule my arrival if I am living off campus?

You complete the same process through the Garnet Gateway: Select a move-in time, and that time will be your testing time. 

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:

8am–8pm Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday
8am–3:30pm Wednesday

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 6 feet between individuals. Staff at the Testing Center will wear face coverings and other protective gear as appropriate.

If you are feeling ill prior to your testing, do not come to the Testing Center. Please call Bates Health Services (207-786-6199) for assessment and further instructions.
Prior to entering the Testing Center, you will do a quick symptom check to confirm you are feeling well. Any individuals who are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms will be referred to Bates Health Services for further assessment and care.

If you are feeling well and pass the symptom check, you will immediately sanitize your hands and then complete a brief registration, confirming your identity. At that time, you will be given a specimen bag with a sterile swab and a specimen tube labeled with your name and date of birth. 

You will then proceed to a space to perform your own swab under the observation of a medical assistant or other appropriately trained staff member.

After placing your swab in the sample tube and placing the tube in the collection box, you will depart the 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 will test on Mondays and Thursdays, and Group B will test Tuesdays and Fridays. Students will be able to self-schedule their testing time block on each day. Detailed information regarding scheduling testing will be forthcoming.

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. 

Those who miss their scheduled testing time on a Friday will need to report to the Testing Center before it closes at 8 p.m. Friday.

Anyone failing to report for testing will be referred to the Student Code of Conduct process for failure to comply with the testing protocol and immediate removal from campus.

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.

What is “Arrival Quarantine”?

Upon arrival Bates and until they receive initial COVID-19 test results, all students will be restricted to their campus room for approximately 48 hours under an Arrival Quarantine protocol

Arrival Quarantine will be discontinued when a student receives a negative COVID-19 test results. 

Campus Life will be offering a variety of virtual programs during Arrival Quarantine so students will still have the opportunity to socialize and be in community together, albeit via remote formats.

It will be tempting to gather together and see friends in-person during this quarantine, but we believe that the student community is ready to take this challenge seriously and adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Exit your room for very limited reasons including using the bathroom facilities and retrieving your grab-and-go meal from the dining tent near the Library Arcade.
  • Wear a face covering when you exit your room into the hallway to go to the bathroom or retrieve your meal. 
  • You may not meet with or visit friends in-person even when wearing a face covering, social distancing, or outdoors. 
  • You may not leave campus.
  • We highly encourage virtual gatherings with friends over Zoom or Google Hangouts.
  • We highly encourage attending Campus Life virtual programming.

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, and if negative, they may end their quarantine.

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

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.