Answers to 7 key questions about IU's COVID-19 testing plans

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was last updated Aug. 11. 

To protect members of the Indiana University community and encourage a healthy start to the school year, IU has implemented COVID-19 testing protocols for several of its campuses.

Here are the answers to seven key questions about coronavirus testing at Indiana University this fall.

Description of the following video:

On-Arrival Testing | IU Bloomington

[VIDEO: Screen opens on Dr. Aaron Carroll, sitting at a desk in front of shelves filled with books.]

[WORDS APPEAR: Dr. Aaron Carroll, director of surveillance and mitigation for Indiana University.]

[CARROLL: We wanted to talk to you a little bit about on-arrival testing. All students, including undergraduate, graduate and professional students, will receive a COVID-19 test when arriving on campus. For those living in on-campus housing, this will be part of your move-in. For those living off-campus, details will be shared soon. It's important you take this test for the safety of you and your fellow students, and thank you for doing your part to help keep our IU family safe.]

[WORDS APPEAR: What type of test are we using?]

[CARROLL: What type of test are we using? We'll be using an antigen test. It's not as sensitive as some others, but it is fast. We'll take a sample from inside your nose, which should be easy and painless.]

[WORDS APPEAR: What information about my test will I receive?]

[CARROLL: What information about my test will I receive, and how long will it take? You'll learn about whether your test is positive or negative pretty fast. And we should have results to you within 30 minutes or less.]

[WORDS APPEAR: What if I test negative?]

[CARROLL: What if I test negative? If your test is negative, you can move in that day. However, a negative test does not mean you're not infected or not at risk. This test is not as sensitive as others, and it's possible you could still be infected and not showing it yet. Because of that, it's very important that you still engage in all of the behaviors that will keep you and others safe throughout the semester, including but not limited to wearing a mask when inside and around others, maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others and washing your hands regularly.]

[WORDS APPEAR: What if I test positive?]

[CARROLL: What if I test positive? First of all, don't panic. Many people have been infected with COVID, and most don't even know it or aren't very sick. However, if you have a chronic condition or if you're concerned, you should probably talk to your doctor as soon as possible. A positive test means you can't move in today, but there are options. You can go home and isolate, or you can move into isolation housing on campus. In both situations, you'll be able to attend classes online.]

[WORDS APPEAR: What now?]

[CARROLL: What now? We encourage you to visit fall2020.iu.edu for additional information about on-arrival testing and other details about the fall semester. We can't wait to see you.]

[VIDEO: The screen fades to black with the words Indiana University in white, and a white trident in a red square.]

On-arrival testing for students living off campus will only be required at IU Bloomington. 

Who is required to be tested before coming to campus?

  •  IU Bloomington: Students living in residence halls, Greek houses or IU on-campus apartments.
  • IUPUI: Students living in residential housing or working in on-campus housing.
  • IU South Bend: Students living in residence halls.
  • IU Southeast: Students living in residence halls.

Students should complete their pre-arrival testing 10 days before their permanent move-in date (not the date they may arrive to simply drop off items). This timeframe was determined with the goal of reducing the risk of students being exposed between the time of testing and arrival to campus, and it allows students to make changes to travel plans if needed.

Students should provide the results of a diagnostic test, also known as a viral test. This type of test shows whether a person is actively infectious at the time of the test. Students who receive a positive result on their pre-arrival COVID-19 test should not come to campus and should follow the protocol for a positive COVID-19 test.

Students arriving from a location outside the U.S. do not need a pre-arrival test for COVID-19. These students will need to self-quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival in the U.S. If a student develops symptoms consistent with COVID-19 during self-quarantine, they must obtain a COVID-19 test and follow the protocol for people exhibiting symptoms.

What if students can't get tested before their move-in dates or don't have their results back before moving in?

If a student has had a test but does not yet have results, they should bring a hard copy or digital verification of taking the test. If a student has made a good-faith effort to have a test before arriving on campus, but was unable to because of lack of tests in their area, etc., they should use the results form to report that.

All IU students are asked to follow all of the CDC's critical COVID-19 behavioral guidelines for at least 14 days before arriving on campus, including wearing a mask, physical distancing and avoiding large events.

Will all students be tested upon arrival?

All students living in on-campus housing at IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU South Bend and IU Southeast will be tested as part of a new centralized check-in process. The on-arrival test for those living in on-campus housing will be an antigen test, and samples will be taken from inside students' nostrils. Students will learn whether their test is positive or negative within 30 minutes or less of their nose swab.

In addition to those living in on-campus housing at IU Bloomington, students living off-campus in Bloomington will also be required to have a COVID-19 test before classes begin. This will be a saliva test with results available in three to five days. Students will need to make an appointment for this test and will receive further details once they've scheduled.

What happens if a student tests negative upon arrival?

A student who tests negative upon arrival will move through the rest of the check-in process and move into their residence hall. It's important for students to know, however, that a negative test doesn't mean they are not infected or at risk. It is possible that students with negative test results could still be infected but not show symptoms yet.

Because of this, it's very important that students still engage in all of the behaviors that will keep them and others safe throughout the semester, including but not limited to wearing a mask when inside and around others; maintaining a physical distance of at least 6 feet from others; and washing their hands regularly.

What happens if a student tests positive upon arrival?

A student who tests positive will not be able to move in, but they will still have options. Students who would be living in on-campus housing can move into isolation housing on campus or may choose to go home and isolate. Details on isolation housing will vary by campus.

In both situations, students will be able to attend classes online.

Are faculty and staff required to get tested before returning to campus?

No, but they will be asked to participate in mitigation testing throughout the semester.

Will students be able to get tested throughout the semester?

Through an agreement with Indiana University Health, IU students, faculty and staff will have access to a comprehensive series of services related to the screening, testing and management of COVID-19.

As part of the agreement, all IU students, faculty and staff at any IU campus or facility who have symptoms of COVID-19 will be able to use virtual visits, as well as local clinics where samples can be collected for virus testing if needed.

Fall 2020

Indiana University is looking forward to welcoming students, faculty and staff to the fall semester. The university has provided safety guidelines, an academic calendar, FAQs, and campus-specific guidance for move-in, testing, teaching and learning at fall2020.iu.edu.