How can students, staff and faculty get tested for COVID-19 at UT-Austin?

Amanda Figueroa-Nieves

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that asymptomatic members of the UT community can sign up for Proactive Community Testing.

University Health Services and UT Health Austin will test students, staff and faculty this fall to monitor the spread of COVID-19. 

Terrance Hines, chief medical officer and executive director of UHS, said a student who has COVID-19 symptoms or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 should schedule a telehealth visit with UHS.

“We can test people who have been exposed to a known person who has known COVID-19,” Hines said. “But the ideal date of test is probably five to eight days after exposure, so we want to … make sure that we are getting the appropriate tests at the appropriate time.”

UHS will collect students’ nose swab samples at the 27th Street Garage outdoor testing center, Hines said. Within one business day, Hines said positive results will be notified by a phone call, and negative results will be posted on the myUHS portal.

UHS will bill students’ insurance for the cost of the test and the university will cover the cost of testing for uninsured students or if the insurance does not fully cover it, according to the UHS website. 

Faculty and staff who are symptomatic or who were in close contact with someone who tested positive can get tested at the UT Health Austin drive-through clinic, according to the UTHA website. An employee's insurance plan will be billed for the full cost. UTHA will explore the use of federal programs for employees who are uninsured, if available, to help cover the cost, according to the message. 

Asymptomatic people who have not previously tested positive and have not been in close contact with someone who tested positive within 14 days can participate in the Proactive Community Testing Program. Asymptomatic students, staff and faculty can sign up to be tested up to two days before a test opportunity to narrow the window for possible development of symptoms between scheduling an appointment and showing up, said Sherry Bell, consumer education and outreach coordinator for UHS.  

The program, which is designed to trace asymptomatic cases on campus, will test saliva samples at the Student Services Building, Gate 8 of the Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and various pop-up locations, according to the UHS website. The University will cover the cost of the saliva test. If a student tests positive, UHS will do a confirmatory test at the 27th Street Garage.

Hines said the saliva test allows UHS to conduct a greater amount of tests. UHS aims to use the program to test 5,000 asymptomatic people per week. 

Hines said students with positive saliva tests are notified by phone call, but those who test negative will not be notified. He said he encourages students to participate in the Proactive Community Testing program. 

“It's a way for us to understand the progress of COVID-19 in our community and whether or not we need to be making any adjustments to our educational programming or other risk reduction strategies,” Hines said. “It also helps to identify people who might have it and don't have symptoms. That's a way to protect the community.”