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COVID-19 Testing: Undergraduate Student Fall Semester Pre-arrival Testing

Posted by on Thursday, July 16, 2020 in .


Before an undergraduate student comes onto campus for the first time this year, they must complete the following:

  • Acknowledgment of Return to Campus requirements in Oracle Learn.
  • COVID-19 test kit that will be mailed to student’s location.

Due to their residential living arrangements and interactions across campus, all undergraduate students are required to complete pre-arrival testing before coming onto campus for the first time. We have partnered with Vault, a national provider of at-home test kits to provide COVID-19 at-home PCR saliva test kits in early August as a convenience to students. This saliva PCR test is the first FDA EUA-authorized solution of its kind and is currently a testing solution for many national companies, as well as sports leagues such as the National Hockey League, the PGA Tour, and Major League Soccer.

While initially our communications suggested a nasal swab test, we have chosen Vault’s saliva test because it is the most convenient and comfortable PCR test available; it can ship to 50 states; and it provides reliable, short turnaround times for test results. The COVID-19 testing landscape across the United States has been constantly evolving, even daily, and we wanted to be sure to provide the best possible solution for all our undergraduate students.

As students complete the Vault test, they will be supervised via Zoom by a medical professional which will allow for a higher degree of service for students and families, while also increasing test efficacy. Our providing this test kit solution for all students also allows consistent methodology across the student body and eliminates the challenge of finding asymptomatic testing options in locations across the U.S. with varying levels of availability.

Students who intend to return to campus this fall must complete a pre-arrival test. Students will receive a message from the university by August 3 with more information and detailed instructions on how to register for a free test kit. Select students who are returning to campus early, including Resident Advisers, will receive instructions earlier. Each student will be provided a unique URL to complete their registration. *Students should order their tests through the link provided them in the YES system in order to not be charged for their test.*

Students must use their unique URL to complete their registration. Important details and dates to remember:

  • Students should place their order (referred to as registering their kit) using their unique URL by 2 p.m. CT on Wednesday, August 5.
  • The kit package will include detailed instructions for how to self-collect the saliva, and how to package and send it back to the vendor for processing. Students should follow the instructions carefully.
  • Students must log in to a Zoom meeting to complete the saliva collection once they receive their test kit. Failure to do the supervised collection will result in their test being invalidated. Students must partake in the supervised collection via Zoom to confirm that they, and not someone else, are completing the test.
  • Zoom meetings are available between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. CT Sunday through Thursday, and between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. CT Friday and Saturday. No appointments are required. The preference is for students to complete their test via Zoom August 11-12. If there are unique circumstances where a student cannot complete the test August 11-12, please take it as close to those dates as possible.
  • Completed test packages should be dropped off at a UPS Store or brown UPS box by 4 p.m. CT on Wednesday, Aug. 12 or immediately after taking their test if the test was not taken Aug. 11-12. Please check the local pick-up times to ensure timely delivery once the test is taken. Students can locate a drop-off point here. Do not drop off the package at any pharmacy location such as CVS or UPS Access Points as these are not valid drop points for the purpose of test submission.
  • Adhering to this timeline will enable Vault to return results to students before students arrive at Vanderbilt.

Important details about the test:

  • The test kit will be registered to the student, and students should not swap kits with anyone else.
  • Students should not open the test tube packaging until they are ready to do the saliva collection. This will invalidate their sample and will result in needing to order another kit at the student’s expense.
  • Students should have a government ID such as a driver’s license or passport, a student ID or some other form of identification ready for the Zoom session. Expired ID is also acceptable due to government closures during the pandemic. If no ID is available, Vault has a selfie procedure students can use.
  • When students are ready to do the saliva collection, they should log in to the Zoom waiting room using the email and password provided during sign-up. Reminder: Students should not eat, drink, chew or smoke anything for at least 30 minutes before giving the sample.

Vanderbilt will be able to access test results electronically in a streamlined fashion through a dashboard portal, which eliminates the need for students to submit their results themselves.

Students must monitor their health and any symptoms using the VandySafe app starting August 10 to prepare for the August 24 start of classes. Students should contact a local health provider, or visit Student Health when it is open if in the Nashville area, if any COVID-19 symptoms develop.


If a student tests positive from the pre-arrival test kit, that student must remain in isolation at home, away from campus, and start all classes remotely until they have completed the required isolation time period. A member of the Public Health Central Command Center will be in touch with the student upon receiving their positive result.

If a student tested positive for COVID-19 and had symptoms, clearance to come to campus is assigned using CDC’s symptom-based strategy 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, per current CDC guidelines. If a student tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, the individual can be cleared to come 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.

If a student has a negative test result from the pre-arrival test kit, the student can start classes in person.

Students who do not complete a pre-arrival test will not be permitted on campus, including to move in to their residence hall assignment (if applicable), and may be subject to course registration cancellation for the fall 2020 semester, or they may elect remote study.