COVID-19 Testing for Employees

Robust testing and contact tracing are critical to maintaining the health and safety of the Bates community. 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. 

Testing, therefore, is very important for those who have frequent “close contact” with others in the Bates community, particularly students living in residence halls and other congregate settings. With this in mind, COVID-19 testing will be available to all employees.

Should I be tested?

All employees who are currently working on campus or will return to work on-campus once the students arrive are encouraged to be tested prior to student arrival.

After receiving this baseline test, the college strongly encourages faculty and staff with frequent close interactions with colleagues or students to test twice a week. Most faculty teaching on campus and staff in Campus Safety, Custodial, Dining, Ladd Library, and Student Affairs would meet this criteria.

Those individuals who are frequently on campus, but have more limited close interactions, are encouraged to test once a week. Typically these would be individuals who are on campus at least 2-3 days per week.

Faculty who are not teaching during a module or are teaching remotely, and staff who are working from home with limited on-campus activity and interaction, are discouraged from traveling to campus simply for the purpose of testing.

If I feel ill and think I might have COVID-19, can I get a test at the Bates Testing Center?

Individuals experiencing any symptoms should not come to the Testing Center (or to campus). The Testing Center will only test asymptomatic individuals. If you are experiencing any symptoms, please call your healthcare provider for further assessment and care. If you are not sure whom to call, please see our Telehealth benefit or call an urgent care center.

If I have traveled out of state and returned, can I use the Bates Testing Center to be cleared to return to work?

No. If you have left the state, please review the Maine State orders, laws, and policies. Once you have met the state requirements, you may return to campus.

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

Yes. All employees who choose to be tested must complete a testing consent form prior to being able to schedule their first test. The consent form will be available on the Garnet Gateway. Anyone needing assistance completing this form can contact Human Resources or seek assistance from their supervisor. Paper consent forms will not be available at the Bates Testing Center.

What is the purpose of the Consent Form?

The Consent Form explains the SARS-CoV-2 test and who will get your results. By signing it, you authorize Bates to release certain information to the testing company for the purpose of performing the SARS-CoV-2 test and reporting the results to you, the health care provider that ordered your test, your educational institution, and, where required by law, certain federal, state, or local government agencies.

The consent form specifies demographic data about me that is being given to the testing company. Why is this data being collected and what is it used for?

The data being requested are those items that the laboratory must collect to meet their compliance requirements. This information must be reported to the State of Maine for any individual who contracts COVID-19. The State of Maine requires that the Maine CDC maintain all testing data indefinitely.

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

The Bates College Testing Center will be on-campus in the Underhill Ice Arena. No other activities will be allowed in this building. The center will likely be open for scheduled testing Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Wednesday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We expect to start testing employees the week of August 16th.

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

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 not be allowed into the Testing Center. You will be directed to call your healthcare provider for further assessment and care.

If you are feeling well, 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 the 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.

In compliance with the college’s face covering policy, 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 for 6’ of distance between individuals. Those working in the Testing Center will wear face coverings and other protective gear as appropriate.  

How long will testing take?

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

How is testing scheduled? Do I need any special technology?

Both scheduling your test and getting your test results will only require access to the web. Currently, you will schedule your test by logging into the Garnet Gateway, clicking on a link and selecting one of the available times. Test results will be returned to you through a portal provided by the testing company. Detailed information regarding scheduling testing and using the test portal will be forthcoming.

Do I need to pay for testing?

Bates College is paying for all testing at the Bates College COVID-19 Testing Center.

How and when will I get the results of my test?

While we expect results within 24 hours of samples arriving at the laboratory, the time from when the test is taken will depend on the courier service schedule and the actual time the nasal swab is taken, which will lengthen the time from the performance of the test to notification. Please allow for up to 48 hours to receive results.

Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be notified directly. Those testing negative will receive an email alerting them to the availability of their results. Individuals will then be able to see their results via the on-line portal.

If there is a problem with processing a particular test, the Testing Center will reach out directly to schedule another testing appointment.

What happens if I test positive?

Individuals who test positive will be asked to go, or remain at, home and self-isolate. You should contact your primary care provider to discuss your test result and symptoms. 

In addition, if you test positive, you are required to contact your manager and Human Resources within 24 hours. You may contact Human Resources at HRCovid@bates.edu or by calling at 207-795-5100. Additional resources are available on the Bates HR website.

Who is notified if I test positive?

The Testing Center Director (Nicholas Cooke, Assistant Director of Athletics for Athletic Performance), the Testing Center Registered Nurse, a member of the Bates Contact Tracing Team, Bates Human Resources, and Maine Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will be informed of all individuals testing positive for COVID-19.

What confidentiality can I expect if I test positive?

In times of public health crisis, confidentiality concerns must be balanced with efforts to protect others. Every effort will be made to maintain your privacy. Maine health officials will contact you to begin contact tracing. They will try to establish any close contact you may have had with other people to determine who else may have been infected. Those officials will then contact those people to advise them to quarantine and monitor themselves for symptoms in order to prevent the virus from spreading any further. 

In addition, a member of the Bates Contact Tracing Team will work with you to identify your “close contacts” on campus so they may be notified that they may have been exposed to COVID-19 and directed to self-quarantine. 

Your name is not used in the contact tracing process.

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 test is a RT-PCR test, and is a high throughput version of the CDC 2019-nCoV Realtime RT-PCR test. The test uses nasal swabs in the lower nasal cavity (anterior nares swabs). Importantly, this is different from the more uncomfortable test involving a swab placed deeply into the upper nasal cavity (nasopharyngeal swabs). The swab is placed into a tube without liquid (dry swabbing) as this allows the laboratory more flexibility in getting the most material off the swab for testing as possible.

The Broad CRSP v2 assay (high throughput) with dry swabs as an input is validated with an LoD of 1.6 copies/µL (or 1600 copies/mL). For context, a study published in The Lancet found median viral load in COVID-19 positive patients at presentation to be 158,489 copies/mL. In other words, this test is very sensitive to the presence of the virus.

More information on the test, including a patient fact sheet, can be found here.