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COVID-19 Testing & Recovery: Graduate and Professional Students

Posted by on Thursday, June 11, 2020 in .


Vanderbilt University established its COVID-19 safety model by leveraging collaboration and partnership with the world-class Vanderbilt University Medical Center and Vanderbilt University School of Nursing to support and protect the Vanderbilt University community as much as possible.

As a core component of our preventive measures, VU has established requirements for COVID-19 safety such as offering on-campus testing, rigorous contact tracing and symptom management. We are partnering closely with the experts at VUMC and our School of Nursing to understand and deploy best practices in these areas. Graduate and professional students who have symptoms related to COVID-19 should visit Student Health. If Student Health is not open and symptoms are severe enough, the student should go to the VUMC emergency department. If symptoms are not severe enough to require the ED, for the safety of others, it is extremely important to avoid all contact with others, wear a face mask/covering, and practice strict hand hygiene while awaiting the Student Health Center to open. Students can also call the VUMC COVID-19 hotline at (888) 312-0847 for information about after-hours assessment site availability. This number is answered seven days a week, 7 am – 7 pm Central time. If there are additional concerns or questions, the Student Health on-call provider can also be reached after hours at 615-322-2427.

Student Health will instruct the individual on appropriate next steps. Should you be identified as a close contact through contact tracing by the Public Health Central Command Center or Health Department, you must quarantine at home as instructed.

Undergraduate students, graduate and professional students, staff and post docs who are authorized to be on campus, and are engaged in on-campus, in-person activities, will be included in the institution’s COVID-19 periodic on-campus  testing program which will begin by Sept.1. The sampling of Vanderbilt community members selected for testing will be based on analysis of COVID-19 test outcomes in segments of the community and other factors that will ensure a representative, meaningful and targeted sample of the VU community. Frequency of the testing during the fall semester will be based on the analysis of the outcome data being surveilled. If you have previously been COVID-19 positive in the last three months, you may be exempt from COVID-19 testing for a period of time.  Please complete the waiver request form and upload relevant documentation, which will go to the Public Health Command Center for review.


The university has also updated its approach to testing of asymptomatic close contacts. The CDC defines a close contact as any individual who was within 6 feet of a person who has tested positive for at least 15 minutes starting from 2 days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic people who test positive, 2 days prior to positive test collection) until the time the person who tested positive is isolated. Asymptomatic close contacts will be tested on day 8 of the required quarantine period. This applies specifically to all faculty, staff, post docs, and students who are authorized to be on campus and are participating in on-campus activities.

How test kits for asymptomatic close contacts are delivered will vary slightly based on the individual’s quarantine location. If an individual identified as a close contact is in on-campus quarantine housing, a pre-paid test kit will be delivered to the person’s quarantine location to be completed on Day 8 of their quarantine period. If an individual identified as a close contact lives off-campus, a weblink will be emailed on Day 5 of their quarantine period to order a pre-paid test kit to be delivered to their off-campus location by Day 8.


Graduate and professional students who test positive for COVID-19 must isolate as directed and until they have been deemed to have recovered. To determine the risk of potential exposure to others on campus, the Vanderbilt Public Health Central Command Center will conduct contact tracing with any student who has tested positive. For more information on contact tracing, please visit the contact tracing page.

Vanderbilt is following the CDC’s recommended recovery strategy. If an individual had symptoms and a positive COVID-19 test, recovery status 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 an 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.