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COVID-19 Testing: Faculty

Posted by on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 in .


Faculty who have symptoms related to COVID-19, have received a positive COVID-19 test result outside the VUMC system, or have been officially notified that they are a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person, must call the Occupational Health Center (OHC) at 615-936-0955 to receive guidance for their symptoms, possible testing, isolation/quarantine period and return to campus criteria.

Faculty with symptoms can also call the VUMC COVID-19 hotline at  (888) 312-0847  daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m to be assessed and directed to the nearest open testing site. VU employees can also report to the ePod testing location at Med Center East with their badge to be tested even without checking with OHC first or waiting to hear back from OHC.

If OHC is not open and the symptoms are severe enough, the individual should go to the VUMC emergency department.

An individual awaiting test results must remain at home off campus in quarantine and keep their department chair/supervisor/mentor/lead researcher informed of their return-to-campus status.

If an individual believes they have contracted COVID-19 after exposure to a known COVID-19 positive person on campus and/or while performing job duties, OHC may direct the individual to complete a First Report of Work Injury or Illness.


VU-employed faculty who are interested in participating on a voluntary basis in periodic, asymptomatic testing should complete the Voluntary Faculty COVID-19 Surveillance Program webform to be enrolled in the program. Eligible faculty must be VU-employed, working on campus and engaged in in-person activities on campus. Participation in the program is confidential, as are test results, except to the extent that information and advice are coordinated by the Public Health Central Command Center.

University leadership, in coordination with the university’s Public Health Central Command Center and public health officials, will monitor COVID-19 test outcomes and trends to determine if changes are needed to campus operations.

Faculty enrolled in the program can test up to once a week beginning no earlier than Jan. 10, dependent on the start date of instruction in the degree program.

Blair faculty members who are teaching an instrument, voice, or ensemble that involves aerosol production will be required to test on a weekly basis beginning the week of Jan. 17. Those faculty who are required to test, if they have been vaccinated will no longer need to participate in the testing program beginning two weeks after their vaccination is complete (either two weeks after the second dose for two-dose vaccines (currently Pfizer and Moderna) or two weeks after the single dose for single dose versions (currently Johnson and Johnson).  The vaccinated person will be exempt from testing beginning from the two week mark, ONLY, if the person submits their vaccination records to the Public Health Command Center.  To submit the vaccination record, please visit the following link. Please also keep in mind that individuals who are vaccinated must still follow all campus protocols, including mask wearing and physical distancing.

All faculty testing will occur at the Testing Center at the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. Faculty can walk in to the Testing Center or elect to use a drive-thru testing mechanism established at the David Williams II Recreation and Wellness Center. All faculty testing is on an opt-in basis, therefore, the only compliance checks that will be conducted are to ensure that faculty are not testing more frequently than once per week. The Testing Center will be open Sunday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. with the exception of January 18 (MLK day) and January 29.  It will be closed on January 18 and 29.

If you have previously been COVID-19 positive, per CDC guidelines you should not partake in COVID-19 testing for 90 days after the date of your test.

Faculty who are a part of the asymptomatic testing program will be notified of their test results. Faculty who test negative can continue to test up to once a week. Faculty who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate as directed until they are deemed to have recovered and are released to return to on-campus activities.  Faculty may also receive an inconclusive test result. Inconclusive test results occur in about 1% of COVID-19 tests taken in an asymptomatic periodic testing program. An inconclusive test typically means that a very small amount of viral DNA is present but not enough to test positive. Faculty will be asked to retest as soon as possible at the testing center Sun.-Fri. 7am-6pm. The retest should show whether individuals were just exposed and mounted a minor viral response that does not develop into full blown infection, resulting in a negative retest result, or whether the original test caught the beginning of the infectious cycle and an increased viral load will be present at the retest resulting in a positive retest result. Directions will come from the Command Center on the proper procedures to take.

Learn more about the Safer Community app, the official COVID-19 testing app for Vanderbilt University.


The university has also updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts. Per both VU Return to Campus protocol and CDC guidance, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within six feet of an infected person for a cumulative total of 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic persons, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person is isolated.

If an individual is identified as an asymptomatic close contact, they will now quarantine for a 10-day period. This has been updated from the previous 14-day quarantine period, per CDC guidance, but comes with additional requirements for days 10 to 14.

When the 10-day quarantine period ends, for days 10 to 14 after last exposure, Vanderbilt community members identified as close contacts must not unmask at any time in public, including in dining locations, and must wear their mask even in the presence of those in their residence. Individuals should eat alone or complete any activities alone that require removing a mask in a private space during those four days.

Individuals who have been vaccinated will no longer need to quarantine if they are identified as a close contact and their last exposure to a positive person was later than two weeks after their vaccination (the second of two doses for two-dose vaccines, or the single dose for one-dose vaccines) is complete.  The vaccinated person will be exempt from quarantine from the two week mark, ONLY, if they submit their vaccination records to the Public Health Command Center.  To submit the vaccination record, please visit the following link.

As a reminder, all individuals should do the following at all times to help slow the spread of COVID-19:

  • Perform daily self-monitoring for symptoms. The VandySafe app includes this feature.
  • Immediately self-isolate if they develop symptoms and contact the Student Health Center if a student and Occupational Health if faculty, staff or postdoc for assessment and testing.
  • Wear a mask, stay at least six feet from others, wash their hands, avoid crowds and take other steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If asymptomatic close contacts develop symptoms, they should contact Occupational Health.


Faculty who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate at home* and follow current CDC guidance. To help determine the risk of potential exposure to co-workers and others on campus, as part of the Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center, Occupational Health will conduct contact tracing with the individual who has tested positive. Those individuals determined to be a potential close contact will be given the name of the individual who tested positive so that their risk can be further assessed. Occupational Health may contact the supervisor/mentor/department chair if further contact tracing information for the COVID-19 positive individual is needed; however, the actual test result (and any other protected health information) will not be disclosed. For more information on contact tracing, please visit the contact tracing page.

Individuals who are defined as a close contact to a COVID-19 positive person are entered into Occupational Health’s symptom monitoring survey that is completed daily. The objective is to closely monitor each individual to ensure that any signs of infection are addressed early.

Vanderbilt is following CDC’s recommended recovery strategy. If an individual had symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, recovery status (and clearance to return to campus/work) is assigned when: 1) the individual remains fever free without the use of fever reducers for 24 hours, 2) symptoms have improved, and 3) it has been at least 10 days since their symptoms first appeared. If the individual tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, the individual can be cleared to return to campus 10 days after the test as long as the individual does not develop symptoms. If the individual develops symptoms, then the individual must follow the recovery strategy for those with symptoms. Notification for return to on-campus activities is directed through Occupational Health.

*On-campus residential faculty will receive separate guidance from the Office of Academic Affairs and Residential Faculty. 



STAY HOME: Notify Occupational Health Center (OHC) for assessment and testing. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.

PAUSE: Stay off campus and quarantine while awaiting test result.

ALL CLEAR: My test is negative so I can return to campus as long as I am not a close contact.


STAY HOME: Notify OHC and fill out Public Health Central Command Center (Command Center) webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher. Complete contact tracing with OHC as soon as possible.

PAUSE: Remain off campus for isolation period, usually 10 days but length can vary.

ALL CLEAR: I completed isolation and can return to campus when released by OHC.


STAY HOME: Complete Command Center webform on the Return to Campus website. Notify department chair and/or lead researcher.

PAUSE: Remain off campus for quarantine period, usually 14 days after last contact but length can vary.

ALL CLEAR: I completed quarantine and can return to campus when released by OHC or Command Center as applicable.


More information about our testing vendor can be found on this FAQ.