The state of Alabama and a multi-agency coalition are gearing up to test thousands of college students for COVID-19 before the start of the fall semester. The University of Alabama says it has been in close contact with students to answer questions concerning testing ahead of the first day of classes on Aug. 17, which is a plan that more than 50 institutions and the state junior college system will also be following.
A negative test result will be required before a student is allowed to return to campus at UA and the other participating institutions. However, those with difficulty accessing testing are asked to contact the UA Student Health Center.
The testing plan — GuideSafe — is supported by $750,000 from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will be implemented by a collaborative effort headed up by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
"Students will be tested by different means depending on where they live and when they plan to come to campus," said Monica G. Watts, associate vice president for communications in the UA Division of Strategic Communications.
The University of Alabama in a message to students said many out-of-state students with early move-in assignments have received free self-administered test kits by mail, while in-state students should be receiving details about testing locations across Alabama. The university also pointed out that GuideSafe has contracted with providers for UPS Health to send self-administered at-home test kits.
UA then said pilot testing began on Sunday in certain locations, with more beginning this week. Those being tested by their doctor will do so at their own expense and are asked to have their test done within 14 days of return. Results must be sent to the UA Student Health Center.
"Those who live across Alabama will have the opportunity to go to one of the 13 testing locations across the state," Watts said. "They can also upload results for tests they’ve had done privately."
Those using the at-home testing kits can expect to see results with 72 hours, the university said.
As of Friday, UA said 2,000 faculty and staff had been tested.
UA also said those tested through GuideSafe will receive an email with results through Everlywell for the at-home kit and PWN Health for the on-site platform.
Click here to learn more about testing for University of Alabama students.
In addition to UA participating in GuideSafe, Stillman College and Shelton State Community College, as part of the Alabama Community College System, were also listed among the institutions requiring students be tested before return for on-campus instruction.
"Obviously, the College and ACCS are both grateful for [Gov. Kay Ivey's] focus on the health and safety of our students," said Shelton State Director of Media and Communications Lisa Waldrop on Monday. "We are still finalizing plans and will announce those plans in the near future."
Shelton State's first day of classes are set also set for Aug. 17, while classes at Stillman are scheduled to begin on Aug. 19.