New exemptions available for COVID-19 mitigation testing

Indiana University now offers three options for staff, faculty and students seeking exemptions from COVID-19 mitigation testing.

an empty mitigation testing vial held in a woman's handView print quality image
Staff, faculty and students now have additional options to seek an exemption for a COVID-19 mitigation test. Photo by Lora Fox, Indiana University

IU gives thousands of saliva-based COVID-19 tests per week, a process that helps the university quickly identify and isolate anyone who tests positive for the virus -- especially asymptomatic carriers. Statistics are reported weekly on IU's COVID-19 dashboard.

Now -- since far fewer students and employees will be on campus with all IU classes going online-only from Nov. 20 to Feb. 7 -- the university is broadening its exemption options.

Three types of mitigation testing exemptions are available:

  • Weekly exemption: Exemptions from a certain week of testing for which you are selected.
  • Intersession exemption: Exemptions from all mitigation testing from Nov. 20 to Jan. 3, a few weeks before in-person classes are slated to begin again on Feb. 8.
  • Academic-year exemption: Exemptions from all testing weeks for the rest of the academic year. This exemption applies through the end of spring semester 2021.

To be exempt from mitigation testing, you must submit an exemption request form. A link to the form for weekly and academic-year exemptions will be included in the emails sent to those selected for testing.

"The goal of mitigation testing is to keep IU safe by identifying cases of COVID-19 in our community, so we really want to focus our efforts on individuals who are an active part of the IU community," said Erika Cheng, who is part of IU's Medical Response Team. "This new exemption process will help identify those who are leaving campus for the winter, or who live out of state and don't plan on visiting an IU campus for the rest of the year, as they don't need to be tested. Our experience from the last 12 weeks has also informed the addition of other, specific limited reasons for exemption."

Weekly exemption

To qualify for an exemption from a specific week of testing, you must meet one of the following criteria. If you're experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or are in quarantine as a close contact, you are required to submit an exemption form and should not participate in mitigation testing.

  • You are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • You are currently in quarantine as a close contact of someone with COVID-19.
  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days.
  • You are not available during the week you were selected for mitigation testing, i.e. vacation, travel or PTO.
  • You are not feeling well for a reason other than suspected COVID-19, such as recovering from surgery, flu, strep throat, etc.
  • You are regularly tested for COVID-19 by IU in a different capacity, including as part of living in IU quarantine housing or being a member of an athletic team.
  • There are no available mitigation testing appointments on your campus that work for you. However, you should schedule your mitigation test early in the week so you do not run into this issue.

Weekly exemptions are only valid for a specific week of mitigation testing; if you are selected again, you will need to submit another exemption request form for the new week.

Intersession exemption

To qualify for an intersession exemption, you must certify that you will be away from campus from Nov. 20 to Jan. 3 by submitting this request form.

Academic-year exemption

To qualify for an exemption for the rest of the academic year, you must meet one of the following criteria:

  • You do not live near an IU campus, and you do not come to campus or use any campus facilities.
  • You live near an IU campus, but you do not interact in person with other IU students, faculty or staff.
  • You are a health care educator teaching in a clinical setting, and you do not teach in a classroom setting.
  • You are regularly tested for COVID-19 (at least once per week) by your employer.
  • You take a prescribed medication that limits your saliva production.

If circumstances change and you no longer qualify for an academic-year or winter exemption, report this change to IU by emailing c19admin@iu.edu.

If your specific circumstances do not meet the criteria above but you believe your situation should qualify for a testing exemption, submit a detailed request via the same form as the weekly and permanent exemption requests. Your request will be reviewed by the IU COVID-19 Medical Response Team.