IMPORTANT! RANDOM TESTING PROGRAM FOR COVID-19

Updated: November 6, 2020, 11:45 a.m. CST

Thank you for testing if selected to do so. It is working. We’re halfway into the semester and still in person – thanks to students like you. Every student contacted to participate in the RTP program who completes a test will receive a free Texas A&M t-shirt and sticker at the Recreation Center testing site.

Earlier rounds of testing have proven extremely effective in identifying hotspots of the virus on and off campus to help quickly contain the spread. You are performing an act of service by testing. We are able to continue in person classes and sporting and other events.

If you have tested before, you may be asked to be tested again and we want it to be as expeditious as possible and helpful to you as well.

The RTP is critical and time-sensitive process, so it is important that you respond by scheduling your test within 48 hours of receiving the email if you are selected. Look for an email with the subject line: COVID-19 Testing Program. You've Been Selected.The RTP will be ongoing throughout the semester, so please watch your inbox for a participation email.

About the Program
The Random Testing Program seeks to understand how SARS-CoV-2 is affecting campus by actively looking for where the virus might be hiding and where it might be moving. It will also help to identify transmission hotspots and clusters of infections, using real-time analytic strategies and rapid campus communications that will help protect you and your fellow students. Within the Random Testing protocol, adaptive testing occurs to focus where hotspots are occurring.

About the Test Itself
If you have not been tested yet, you may not know that the test is a saliva test where you swab a Q-tip inside your mouth, not the long Q-tip test that can be unpleasant that is administered by others. We are also beginning to use a new PCR based test which is more of a drool into a tube than a self-swab.

Below are some questions and answers about the program which will also be added to the central university COVID-19 page under “Random Testing Program.”

Random Testing Program Questions and Answers (if you receive a subsequent email to participate)

Why was I selected?
Students in the Bryan-College Station area are eligible for selection. Students living both on and off campus will be anonymously selected to receive their COVID-19 test.

Location of Testing and Free Parking Available
Your email will instruct you which location is available for your test registration.

The COVID-19 testing tent is located near Beutel Health Center.
For those invited to the location. Gyms 5 and 6 at the Rec Center, 187 Corrington Drive, College Station, are also designated sites. For those and again only participants invited to do so, enter on the south side of the building. Free parking in lot will be available to those testing with the RTP program.

How long does it take?
The process will take approximately five minutes once inside the testing area, where you will be instructed on how to self-administer the saliva-based test. To avoid wait times and reduce testing lines, you will schedule your appointment online in advance. You will need to receive your test during the time period assigned by the email. You will have a few days as options from which to choose so that you can schedule around your classes.

Is this test mandatory?
As significant response rates continue, testing will continue to be voluntary. Please take the test. Doing so serves others and yourself.

Why is this program necessary?
Community transmission of SARS-CoV-2 continues globally, particularly in the US and Texas. Texas A&M wishes to contain the spread as much as possible in order to continue to offer in-person classes. Unlike testing programs that originate at clinical testing sites, such as doctors’ offices and urgent care centers where people seek care, the RTP allows students who may not demonstrate symptoms to know their infection status and therefore be able to take part in containing disease spread on campus.

The RTP actually helps to detect when individuals might have the virus but don’t know it yet because they haven’t developed symptoms and might have such mild illness that they don’t realize they need to seek healthcare. People are most infectious 3-6 days after infection, before symptoms typically start, and can continue to be infectious for up to 10 days or more after they start to show signs of illness.

How many students will participate in the RTP?
Each round of testing throughout the semester will go to from approximately 5000 – 10,000 students. In the questionnaire, some students may not continue to actually take the test. So there is some probability that most students will be asked to test.

Is there a fee?
No. Tests are provided at no cost through Student Health Services.

What if I have already been tested for COVID-19?
Even if you have already been tested for COVID-19, you will need to respond to the invitation email. After you respond to the email, you will find out if there is some reason that you don’t need to be tested.

What if I test positive?
You will receive an email providing you with additional information and guidance. You will self-report to the University through the COVID-19 Reporting Portal. You will also receive information from campus units designed to provide student support (such as medical information and student assistance services).

How will data be used?
Your test results, combined with your responses to the online portal, will be used by our team of epidemiologists to learn where the virus is located on campus, understand factors that facilitate transmission among students, and locate geographic patterns of COVID-19.  

How will my information be protected?
The online portal where you provide your information has HIPAA-level data security and is kept confidential within the COVID Operations Center. Your name will never be made public or shared with the analytic team.  

What if I do not receive an email to participate but still want to get tested?
You may still schedule a free test by registering here.
Additional questions can be emailed to covid@tamu.edu.

Thank you for your selfless service in helping to keep yourself and others safer!