COVID-19 mitigation testing at IU: What you need to know

To help ensure the safety of the campus community, Indiana University recently administered COVID-19 tests to every student living in on-campus housing. The university also required or strongly encouraged pre-arrival and on-arrival testing for many other groups on or near campus.

Description of the following video:

What Is Mitigation Testing? With Dr. Aaron Carroll transcript

 

[TEXT: Dr. Aaron Carroll, Director of Surveillance and Mitigation for COVID-19]

 

[VIDEO: Dr. Aaron Carrol appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: Let's talk about mitigation testing at Indiana University. What is mitigation testing?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "What is mitigation testing?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: Mitigation testing is how we identify and isolate members of the IU community who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms. Each week, thousands of students, faculty and staff will be selected to participate in mitigation testing. Those selected will receive an email notification and be prompted to schedule an on-campus test by the end of the week. Why is this important?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "Why is mitigation testing important?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: Mitigation testing is essential to IU's ability to continue to safely offer in-person education this semester. Without it, the university has no way to identify asymptomatic cases before they spread the virus to others. That's why participation is so important. Those selected who fail to take their mitigation tests may be subject to disciplinary actions. What type of test will be used?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "What type of test will be used?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: Mitigation tests will be simple saliva tests with results back in a few days. How do I schedule my mitigation test?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "How do I schedule my mitigation test?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: Those selected for mitigation testing will receive an email from IU with instructions for scheduling a 30-minute testing appointment. What if I work remotely or take all of my classes online?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "What if I work remotely, or take all my classes online?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: If you are not coming to campus this semester, and you don't interact with any other IU students, faculty or staff, you may qualify for an exemption from mitigation testing. However, if you come to campus to go to the library or buy food, for example, or if you meet up with other members of the IU community off campus, you will still need to participate in mitigation testing. In order to be exempt from testing, you have to fill out the exemption request form, which is linked in the email you will receive if you are selected. Exemptions are only valid for one round of mitigation testing; if you are selected again, you will need to fill out another exemption form. What happens if I test negative?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "What happens if I test negative?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: If your test is negative, you can continue on with your normal routine. You should still of course wear a face mask, keep at least 6 feet from others, and avoid large gatherings to protect yourself and others. What happens if I test positive?]

 

[VIDEO: A slide with the words "What happens if I test positive?" appears on screen.]

 

[VIDEO: Carroll appears on screen in his home office.]

 

[CARROLL: If you test positive for COVID-19, you will need to isolate yourself for at least 10 days from the time of your positive test. If you live off campus, you should not come to campus for any reason, including work. An IU contact tracer will contact you via phone, email or text message with more guidance and important next steps. Make sure you answer their call. For more information about IU's COVID-19 plans and policies, visit fall2020.iu.edu. We appreciate your cooperation, and thank you for your help in keeping the IU community safe.

 

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

 

But a strong start doesn't negate the need to stay vigilant with a plan guided by science and led by nationally renowned experts. On Aug. 24, IU expanded its required COVID-19 testing to nearly all faculty, staff and students as part of a planned rollout of semesterlong mitigation testing.

The goal of mitigation testing is to quickly identify and isolate any individuals who test positive for COVID-19, including asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The testing will also deliver a clearer picture of how the virus may be spreading, including early detection of potential "COVID clusters."

"If (mitigation testing) occurs at a very early stage, we can get people into quarantine and isolation before they can even have a chance to infect others," Dr. Aaron E. Carroll, director of surveillance and mitigation for IU's COVID-19 pandemic response team, said during a Keeping IU Healthy town hall with IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel. "Models show that (this) level of screening is ... our best tool to try to keep any kind of outbreak ... at bay."

Mitigation testing will cover thousands of people per week across all IU campuses. The tests will be conducted using saliva samples, which is sufficient for the purposes of mitigation testing. Nasopharyngeal swabs will not be required for mitigation testing.

Individuals selected for mitigation testing will be notified by email and must make an appointment to complete their test on campus by Friday of that week. If selected, individuals are required to participate unless they meet a very narrow set of exemption criteria.

"Indiana University has put in place one of the most robust and comprehensive testing programs I've seen. Once we're at full capacity for mitigation testing, we'll be testing more folks on a weekly basis than the entire state of Indiana," said Carroll, who is also a professor of pediatrics at the IU School of Medicine. "First and foremost, we want our campus community to be safe. We believe this type of mitigation testing program is one key piece of our health and safety plan. 

Two people in masks talk during COVID-19 testingView print quality image
IUPUI faculty, staff and students take part in COVID-19 saliva testing at the Barnhill Garage at IUPUI. Photo by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

Test results will be available in two to five days.

If the test is negative, individuals should continue with their normal routine.

If the test is positive, individuals will be contacted by an IU contact tracer and receive detailed instructions on isolation and next steps, including downloading the Twistle app. Through Twistle, individuals will receive daily prompts to check their temperature and monitor other symptoms. If symptoms worsen, Twistle will alert an IU Health nurse to call and check in with that person.

Participation in mitigation testing is essential to IU's ability to continue safely offering in-person education this year; without it, the university has no way to identify asymptomatic cases before they spread to others. Consequently, students, faculty and staff contacted for mitigation testing who fail to take the COVID-19 test may be subject to disciplinary actions, up to removal from campus or being placed on administrative leave without pay. Further details are provided to students in the Student Commitment Form and to faculty and staff in the Community Responsibility Acknowledgement.

Students, faculty and staff who do not come to campus this semester may be exempt from mitigation testing. A link to an exemption request form will be made available upon contact.