COVID-19 testing at UAB varies from students and university and UAB Medicine employees. There are three different variations of testing, including Student Campus Entry Testing, Employee Campus Entry Testing and Sentinel Testing

Student Campus Entry Testing

REQUIRED FOR STUDENTS

All UAB students coming to campus for the fall semester will receive a free COVID-19 test as part of the GuideSafe™ entry to campus program, supported by CARES Act funding through the State of Alabama. Here a few key things to know about UAB's Campus Entry Testing:

  • Any student that plans to physically come to UAB for classes, meetings, jobs, extracurricular activities, events or any other reason to be on campus will have to provide documentation of a negative COVID-19 test.
  • Testing will begin the first week of August, but students should not test more than 14 days before returning to campus. We suggest setting up your test 7-14 days prior to arrival.
  • Students must have a negative test within the 14-day window of coming on UAB's campus, along with completing the appropriate safety training and enrolling in UAB Healthcheck.
  • Free testing will be provided for ALL students coming to campus.
  • You can go to your primary care provider or another testing site. Provide UAB Student Health Services a copy of your negative results via the secure patient portal. You can access your portal on the Student Health Services website with your Blazer ID and password. Select the “Messages” tab and then upload your documentation to “Coronavirus Lab Results.”
  • Out-of-state students will receive information about COVID-19 testing in the initial email from GuideSafe™ Entry Testing.
  • International students should be tested in your country prior to coming to campus. Be sure to not test more than 14 days prior to your return to campus. Provide UAB Student Health Services a copy of your negative results via the secure patient portal. You can access your portal on the Student Health Services website with your Blazer ID and password. Select the “Messages” tab and then upload your documentation to “Coronavirus Lab Results.” If you cannot get tested in your current residence, you are eligible to register for a free COVID-19 test through GuideSafe™ Entry Testing. However, you will not be able to live on campus or come to campus until cleared.
  • Campus Entry Testing will supplement other strategies to keep our campus safe, such as UAB Healthcheck and Sentinel Testing.

Our ability to test every student coming to campus will go a long way in helping us maintain a safe environment. If your results are positive you will need to contact Student Health Services for follow-up care and clearance prior to entering campus. Student Health will provide guidance on self-isolating and caring for yourself during this time.

Student Campus Entry Testing: What is the process?

  • Each student will receive an email from GuideSafe™ Entry Testing with a link to register online for testing. Please look for and promptly complete the instructions in the email.
  • After registration and system verification, you will schedule an appointment at an approved testing site on the day and time of your choosing.
  • A confirmation email with the testing appointment and instructions of what to bring and information about what to expect with sample collection will be sent to you. Please be sure to check your email for the confirmation.
  • You will receive an appointment reminder via email.
  • When you arrive at the testing site, you will present the confirmation email and identification. The confirmation email can be shown via phone.
  • After identity verification, you will complete your sample collection under observation at the testing site.
  • The sample is transported by the testing site to the testing lab and run within 24 hours.
  • The testing lab reports the test result to the student, the student's state department of public health, GuideSafe™ Testing and UAB.
  • If your results are positive you will need to contact Student Health Services for follow-up care and clearance prior to entering campus.
  • If your results are negative, you are clear to enter campus.

Student Campus Entry Testing: What should I expect during the test?

The test will be a self-administered swab in the nostril — though not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab.

  • You will be handed a swab.
  • Hold the swab placing your thumb and forefinger in the middle of the swab shaft covering the score line or black line.
  • Do not touch, lay down or drop the swab.
  • Insert the swab about 2cm (less than 1 inch) into your nostril until you meet resistance.
  • Gently rotate the swab for 5 seconds pushing against the center of your nose.
  • Remove the swab from the first side of nose and insert into the other side of your nose.
  • Rotate the swab for 5 seconds pushing against the center of your nose on the second side.
  • Remove the swab from your nose and hold it out so your observer can take the swab from you without touching you.

Student Campus Entry Results and Exceptions

  • Positive COVID-19 test during Campus Entry Testing:
    • If your results are positive you will need to contact Student Health Services for follow-up care and clearance prior to coming on campus.
    • You can begin the semester by taking courses online if you are able to do so. Please coordinate with your instructor and Disability Support Services.
  • Positive COVID-19 test within the last 12 weeks:
    • If your positive COVID-19 test was within the last 12 weeks of your entry to campus you will not need a new test. Instead, provide UAB Student Health Services a copy of your results and health care provider clearance documentation via the secure patient portal.
    • You can access your portal on the Student Health Services website with your Blazer ID and password. Select the “Messages” tab and then upload your documentation to “Coronavirus Lab Results.”
    • Your information will be reviewed, and you will be notified via the portal once clearance is confirmed.
  • Negative COVID-19 test within 14 days of entry:
    • Provide documentation of test result to UAB Student Health Services a copy of your results and health care provider clearance documentation via the secure patient portal.
    • You can access your portal on the Student Health Services website with your Blazer ID and password. Select the “Messages” tab and then upload your documentation to “Coronavirus Lab Results.”
    • Your information will be reviewed, and you will be notified via the portal once clearance is confirmed.
  • Participating in fully online courses, live out of state and outside reasonable distance to likely travel to campus. All students who live in Alabama will be required to participate in Campus Entry Testing.
  • Student athletes who have already received a campus entry test have met the entry requirement and do not need to take further action.
  • Students in the School of Nursing enrolled in fully distance accessible programs, the RN to BSN Pathway, the MSN Program, and the DNP Program, will not be required to participate in the Campus Entry COVID-19 testing. 

Protecting Your Privacy

The reason you are being asked to share a lot of information about yourself during the entry testing registration process is because of CDC guidelines and mandates by the ADPH. To protect your privacy, data will be de-identified when shared with the CDC. Your de-identified data will help us understand COVID-19’s impact, rate of positivity, testing coverage, and will help identify supply chain issues for reagents and other materials.

Employee Campus Entry Testing

University Faculty and Staff Campus Entry Testing

COVID-19 campus entry testing will be offered to faculty and university staff returning to campus in August, but it is not required. Campus entry testing is a self-administered nostril swab, not the nasopharyngeal swab. Please read the following guidance:

  • Any faculty or staff with or without COVID-19 symptoms are asked to complete UAB Healthcheck and follow instructions for next steps, including for testing (access Healthcheck on the re-entry website, uab.edu or the UAB app).
  • University faculty and staff without COVID-19 symptoms who are returning to campus in August and would like to be tested (not required) will receive instructions at a later time on how to access this testing.
  • University faculty and staff who are working remotely will not participate in this campus entry testing and are not included in the randomized list for sentinel testing.
  • University faculty and staff who are already on campus (prior to August) and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are included in the sentinel testing process and will not participate in campus entry testing.

UAB Medicine Employees Entry Testing

Please review the following testing guidelines for UAB Medicine employees:

  • UAB Medicine employees with or without COVID-19 symptoms are encouraged to complete UAB Healthcheck and follow instructions for next steps, including for testing (access Healthcheck on the re-entry website).
  • UAB Medicine employees who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 or are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms must complete the mandatory Employee Health Symptom and Exposure form available here or on org/coronavirus.
  • UAB Medicine employees who are already working on campus and who do not have COVID-19 symptoms are included in the sentinel testing process and will not participate in campus entry testing.
  • UAB Medicine employees who are working remotely may be included in the randomized selection for sentinel testing. Participation is not mandatory but is strongly encouraged.

Sentinel Testing

VOLUNTARY, BUT HIGHLY ENCOURAGED

As UAB and UAB Medicine unite faculty, staff and students on campus, we prioritize the health and safety of each individual. In order to identify COVID-19 hotspots across our campus, we are adopting sentinel testing across the full campus, both academic and medical. Random testing of a percentage of our population on a weekly basis will provide a snapshot of how much of the COVID-19 virus is circulating among our population. This testing will help us identify areas of concern and hot spots on campus to prevent a severe outbreak, particularly among our campus members who might be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

Testing is voluntary. But, we hope that you will help us in the fight against this virus so that we can continue to put measures in place to keep you safe.

Sentinel Testing FAQs

What is sentinel testing?

Sentinel testing is a system that collects information useful for monitoring trends in diseases and pathogens. For the COVID-19 pandemic, plans are to test between 2.5% to 5% of the on-campus population weekly to identify how much of the COVID-19 virus is circulating among our population.

Why is UAB doing sentinel testing? How will the results be used?

SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, is transmitted through respiratory secretions as people come in contact with each other. UAB will perform ongoing testing to evaluate the amount of the virus in our community. Many people may carry COVID-19 without showing symptoms (asymptomatic) and are carriers of the virus and can infect others.

This testing will help us identify areas of concern and hot spots on campus to prevent a severe outbreak, particularly among our campus members who might be at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. 

Please note that submitting to testing is voluntary. Your choice to participate or not will not have a positive or negative impact on your employment. Nevertheless, we hope that you will help us in the fight against this virus so that we can continue to put measures in place to keep you safe.

How will employees and students be selected for sentinel testing?

Plans are to test between 2.5% to 5% of the on-campus population each week. Those randomly selected for testing will be notified via email by Employee Health or Student Health. 

I have been selected for sentinel testing. What do I do?

You will receive a specific time frame to go to Employee Health or Student Health for testing. Once you arrive, present your email to confirm testing need. The test consists of an observed nasal self-swab that will be processed in an on campus lab. Someone from Employee Health or Student Health will observe each self test to ensure accuracy and provide coaching if needed. 

Those being tested will be contacted with 36 hours with results. If you test negative for COVID-19, you will receive results via email within 36 hours of testing. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will receive a call from one of the physicians working with Employee Health or Student Health to give you next steps on how to protect yourself and others around you.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 12 weeks, please opt out of sentinel testing. If you have not received a positive diagnosis, we ask that you participate in UAB's sentinel testing. 

Where do I go for testing?

Students will be tested at UAB Student Health Services Student Health and Wellness Center. 

Employee testing is available at several UAB Medicine locations, including UAB Medicine Gardendale, UAB Medicine Leeds, UAB Medicine Hoover, UAB Medicine Inverness, UAB Hospital Highlands, or The Kirklin Clinic of UAB Hospital (2nd floor). Testing centers are open Tuesday through Thursday, between 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm.

Further information will be provided in the email if you are randomly selected. 

If I have been chosen for sentinel testing, can I continue to be on campus while waiting for results?

Yes. You can continue to be on campus, both academic and medical, as long as you are without COVID-19 symptoms or significant exposure to a COVID-19 positive person. UAB requires everyone on campus, both academic and medical, to wear a mask to protect yourself and others from spreading COVID-19.

Am I required to participate in sentinel testing?

No. Participation in sentinel testing is not required; however, it is strongly encouraged that you participate to help keep our campus community safe and healthy. Many people may carry COVID-19 without showing symptoms. People that are asymptomatic are still carriers of the virus and can infect others. 

Your choice to participate or not will not have a positive or negative impact on your employment. Supervisors will not be made aware if participation in sentinel testing is declined. Nevertheless, we hope that you will help us in the fight against this virus so that we can continue to put measures in place to keep you safe.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 12 weeks, please opt out of sentinel testing. If you have not received a positive diagnosis, we ask that you participate in UAB's sentinel testing. 

When does sentinel testing at start?

UAB will begin sentinel testing on July 6. The first cohort will be clinical education students who are currently on campus. They will be notified beginning June 29.  

Can I come on campus before I am selected for sentinel testing?

Yes. You can return to campus prior to sentinel testing. All students, faculty and staff are expected to comply fully with the re-entry policies, protocols and guidelines outlined here, as well as specialized and more stringent guidance from their particular departments/units/schools. Each department/unit/school will develop and communicate its operational plan for return to campus.

Will the test hurt?

No.  The test consists of a self-swab just inside the nose that is painless.

What test is the laboratory using?

The tests will be processed using the Aptima Bio Fire Fusion platform by a UAB epidemiologists and infectious diseases lab. 

How will I get my results?

If you test negative for COVID-19, you will receive results via email within 36 hours of testing.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you will receive a call from one of the physicians working with Employee Health or Student Health to give you next steps on how to protect yourself and others around you.

What do I do if I test positive, but do not show symptoms?

Self isolate for 14 days if you test positive, but are not showing symptoms to help protect others in the community. 

What do I do if I get sick?

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 because you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, follow these steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. You should quarantine or self-isolate for 14 days or until you are symptom free for 72 hours, which ever comes last. 

 
  • Stay home except to get medical care. 
  • Separate yourself from other people.
  • Wear a mask or face covering.  
  • Monitor your symptoms. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. 
  • Clean your hands often. 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

What should I do if one of my direct reports receives a positive diagnosis of COVID-19?

If someone on your team has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or suspected to have COVID-19 and exposed other members of the UAB community, please follow these steps to help prevent the disease from spreading to people in your home and community. Employee Health or Student Health will contact you for further testing and cleaning protocols if indicated. If the person who tested positive came in contact with others, they will report this to Employee or Student Health, who will then contact those that may have been exposed to COVID-19 for further testing if indicated. 

All employees and students should update their Healthcheck to reflect an exposure, new symptoms or a positive test, which would then trigger a response from either Student or Employee Health, while concurrently leaving campus to quarantine or isolate until further instructed by either Employee or Student Health.

Those with a positive test are encouraged to:

 
  • Stay home except to get medical care. 
  • Separate yourself from other people.
  • Wear a mask or face covering.  
  • Monitor your symptoms. 
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes. 
  • Clean your hands often. 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

When should I seek emergency medical attention?

Look for warning signs* for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek medical care and immediately call 911:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

What is the treatment available for Covid-19?

Currently, only hospitalized patients with COVID-19 are receiving the approved medication. Further instructions on over-the-counter medications to ease symptoms will be discussed when a physician from Employee Health calls to discuss positive test results. 

UAB and UAB Medicine are participating in numerous studies to identify treatments for persons who have recently been diagnosed with COVID-19. These studies are looking for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 to participate in these clinical drug trials. The goal of these studies is to prevent disease progression, hospitalization and severe complications. If you are interested in participating, please call 205-934-6777.

How can I help decrease the spread of COVID-19?

  • Keep yourself healthy:
    • Wear a mask when you go out in public.
    • Practice social distancing by staying 6 feet away from people and not gathering in large groups.
    • Practice good hand hygiene by washing hands frequently with soap and water or use hand gel.
  • Monitor yourself for symptoms, including cough, shortness of breath, fever, and body aches are common symptoms.
  • Be kind to others and take care of your mental health.

What do I tell my family and friends if I test positive?

Those who receive a positive diagnosis for COVID-19 should let family and friends who you have come in contact with know. Identify someone who can care for you through monitoring and for provision of nourishment, while keeping their distance. Those with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis will need to isolate for 14 days to prevent spread of the virus. Care partners should monitor themselves for symptoms and seek testing if symptoms develop by calling 205-975-1881. Best practices in isolation include: 

  • Use a separate bathroom and bedroom.
  • Wear a mask
  • Practice social distancing
  • Wash hands often
  • Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or elbow 
  • Avoid sharing personal household items.
  • Clean all “high-touch” surfaces everyday

Click here to learn more about caring for loved ones with COVID-19 at home.