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Penn State Starting Pre-Arrival Coronavirus Testing This Week

Penn State will begin conducting pre-arrival coronavirus testing for approximately 24,000 students this week, the university announced Monday.

Students identified as living in “hot spot” areas, such as those with a higher coronavirus prevalence, will be among the first to receive at-home saliva coronavirus testing kits to be taken before returning to campus in August. An additional 6,000 faculty and staff members will also receive tests.

Selected individuals will receive an email to their Penn State email address no later than Wednesday, August 5 that includes instructions to order a free test kit from Vault Health, an independent laboratory. The email will also include a registration link for Vault’s testing website and directions to complete the test at home.

Each individual is advised to order their free kit as soon as possible so they’ll have enough time to receive their results before returning to campus. Penn State said the entire testing process should take “at least seven to 10 days” from the time the kid is ordered.

Once the test is taken, individuals should receive their results within 38-72 hours after Vault receives the kit. The laboratory advises them to send their results in as soon as possible after the test is administered, as it must test the sample within 56 hours of it having been produced.

According to Penn State, each test will be administered while a Vault practitioner supervises through a Zoom call to eliminate potential exposure risk to others involved with in-person sampling.

Students will receive their results via email from Vault, which will also send a copy to Penn State. Should an individual test positive, they’ll need to isolate at home for at least 10 days. During that time, they’ll receive guidance from University Health Services and won’t be able to travel to a Penn State campus until receiving clearance.

The testing process, first announced during the university’s virtual town hall last week, hopes to prevent students from potentially bringing the coronavirus with them as they return to Penn State.

“Focusing on individuals returning from high disease prevalence provides us the opportunity to begin the semester with a far lower number of asymptomatic but COVID-positive individuals on campus, which is essential to allowing the campuses to remain open throughout the semester,” interim College of Medicine Dean Dr. Kevin Black said last week.

Once the semester begins, those who weren’t selected for pre-arrival testing will be prioritized for asymptomatic surveillance testing. This process will test approximately 1% of the university’s population (~700 people) each day at designated locations around campus that haven’t been made public yet.

Pre-arrival testing aside, all Penn State students are advised to self-quarantine at home for at least seven days before they return to campus later this month.

To dive into the nitty-gritty of Penn State’s testing processes, consider checking out the university’s handy list of answers to frequently asked questions.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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