FAQs About Random Student Testing

As announced on August 25, Wake Forest University will randomly test several hundred students each week to track the prevalence of COVID-19 among students who may not present any symptoms but may still spread the infection to others. Testing the asymptomatic student population will help inform decisions about University operating levels and public health measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. (see sample invitation)

The test is required and will be administered on campus at no cost to students.

Wake Forest has partnered with BioReference to administer these tests.

Testing Location

Enter the testing location from Parking Lot X (see map), located at the corner of Wake Forest Road and Carroll Weathers Drive and across the street from the Worrell Professional Center. Parking is available for students getting tested.

The actual testing will take place under tents on the tennis and basketball courts outside of Palmer and Piccolo Residence Halls (No. 48 on the campus map), but the only access is from Parking Lot X. In the event of inclement weather, testing will be moved to the top floor of the former Anthropology Museum (No. 29 on the campus map). Signs will direct students to the appropriate location upon arrival.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions about random testing of undergraduate and graduate students can be answered in several ways:

  • Email at covid19@nullwfu.edu
  • An online form
  • University Call Center: (336) 758-7500 (typically staffed M-F and some weekends from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Eastern)

Requests for an exemption to random testing may be submitted here (please see the FAQ below about exemptions).

Please refrain from contacting Student Health Service about testing policy or processes so that medical staff remain available to address personal health issues.

    I've been selected. What do I need to know?

  • Why was I selected to get tested for COVID-19?

    Several hundred students are selected at random each week to be tested. Random testing tracks the prevalence of COVID-19 among students who may not present any symptoms but may still spread the infection to others.

  • Am I required to get tested?

    If you are notified that you have been selected for COVID-19 testing, you are required to comply. The Public Health Emergency Addendum to the Undergraduate Student Code of Conduct and similar policies applicable to graduate and professional students require that students “comply with all University policies and expectations that are implemented in response to the pandemic and that pertain to student conduct on-campus and off-campus.”

  • What happens if I do not get tested?

    Those failing to comply will be subject to sanctions through the Student Code of Conduct process, including removal from on-campus housing, and/or suspension or expulsion.

  • Under what conditions could I request an exemption from random testing?

    Exemptions are limited to:

    • students experiencing symptoms of COVID-19,
    • students who are in quarantine or isolation for COVID-19,
    • students with documented acute medical conditions,
    • and students who do not reside within a 45-mile radius of the Wake Forest University Reynolda Campus. NOTE: If you tell the University that you are living outside that radius and cannot come for testing, your DeaconOne Card will be deactivated. You will not be allowed to come to a Wake Forest University property or participate in University-sponsored programs off campus.

    No other exceptions will be made.

    • If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have other medical concerns, contact Student Health Service at 336-758-5218.
    • Submit your exemption (via this form) to the COVID-19 Coordinator if you have been selected for random testing and you are currently in quarantine or isolation for COVID-19 at the direction of Student Health Service, have a documented acute medical condition, or do not reside within a 45 mile radius of the Wake Forest University Reynolda Campus.

    You are required to get tested when notified, even if you have a prior positive COVID test result suggesting the possibility of antibodies.

  • What if I was recently tested due to symptoms or possible exposure?

    If you are no longer in quarantine or isolation, you are still required to get tested through the random testing program.

  • I tested positive for COVID in the past. Am I exempt from testing now?

    No. A prior positive test does not exempt you from random testing now, unless you are still in quarantine or isolation.

  • I now have a conflict with my scheduled testing time. How do I reschedule?

    It is your responsibility to cancel your current appointment through the BioReference portal and schedule a new appointment. If you cannot reschedule your appointment using the portal, submit the need to reschedule to the COVID Coordinator using this form. If you do not reschedule for the current week of testing, you will be contacted by the COVID Coordinator.

  • I forgot the the date and time of my appointment. How do I find it?

    You should receive a text message right
    after scheduling that includes confirmation number, time, date and the WFU address.

    In addition, you can return to the portal and choose “Cancel Existing Booking.” Input your confirmation number, email address and phone number. On the next screen, titled “Booking Cancellation,” your appointment date/time will be displayed. Then hit “Go Back” or exit the portal.

  • How will I receive my test results and how long will it take?

    You will be notified by email of your test results. Student Health Service will follow up with students who have a positive result.

    We anticipate the average should be 48-72 hours. Note that it could take longer depending on the demand across the country/availability of lab processing.

  • What happens if I test positive for COVID-19?

    If your test results return positive for COVID-19, Student Health Service will provide instruction for your care, including isolation, and begin contact tracing protocols to potentially notify others with whom you have been in close contact.

  • Will I be required to get tested more than once?

    It is possible you could be notified more than once that you must get tested. While this may seem unfair, the sample is random and remember that each test only represents a snapshot in time.

  • What if I am unable to get tested due to a physical disability?

    Students who require disability-related accommodations to complete COVID-19 testing should email wfevents@wfu.edu.

  • Am I required to quarantine while waiting for test results?

    You will not be asked to quarantine unless you are exhibiting symptoms or have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

  • What type of test is it?

    BioReference Laboratories, a nationally recognized lab that specializes in mobile testing, will use a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test utilizing anterior nares (nasal swab) collection. The swab is taken from the front of the nostril only and has been described as the least invasive of the different types of nasal swabs.

  • The CDC recently advised against testing individuals without symptoms. Why is Wake Forest continuing this program?

    While asymptomatic testing for individuals is unnecessary, random testing of groups in congregate living environments, like college campuses, helps to track the prevalence of the virus and informs containment strategy and the University’s approach to protecting public health.

  • Can I volunteer to get tested?

    To keep the testing sample random, we cannot accept volunteers for testing. If you are experiencing symptoms or believe you may have been exposed to someone known to have tested positive for COVID-19, please contact Student Health Service at 336-758-5218.

  • Will I need to wait in a crowded area to get tested?

    No, the testing area will not be crowded. Test appointments are spaced out to avoid a large group of people being present at any one time. The testing site was strategically selected to aid with social distancing. Staff will be present to monitor conditions and address any concerns.

  • Who sees the results of my COVID-19 test?

    Test results will be protected in compliance with FERPA. Test results will not be shared with a parent or guardian without a student’s specific consent. Student Health Service will notify Residence Life and Housing of the need to provide quarantine/isolation accommodations when necessary. (This may also be required by possible exposure and does not suggest a positive test result.)

    Student Health Service must notify the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services of positive results but will not provide personally identifiable information. Aggregate data of confirmed COVID-19 cases will be reported on the Wake Forest’s COVID-19 dashboard and will include known positive, laboratory-verified test results reported to the Student Health Service. The source of these tests will be both clinical diagnostic testing and the random testing program.

  • My friend just told me they tested positive for COVID-19, what should I do?

    If you think you were exposed to someone with COVID-19, please report this on the SneezSafe screening tool, rather than calling or emailing the Student Health Service. However, if you have already completed your SneezSafe for the day, email traceshs@wfu.edu to say you may have been exposed.

    You do not need to call the Student Health Service unless you have symptoms.

    While you are waiting to receive guidance from Student Health Service or a contact tracer, you should quarantine (which means staying in your room and not socializing with others). You can get grab and go food or order in; please do not eat with others. You can go out of your room to use the bathroom; do not congregate or go in groups. A contact tracer will contact you to determine next steps.

    NOTE: Do not worry if you do not hear from a contact tracer right away; it can take up to 24 hours.

    How does selection work?

  • How are you conducting random testing?

    We worked with infectious disease experts at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to design a random sampling program to assess the general presence and prevalence of the virus in our student population. The team developed a simple sampling model in which 500 students were randomly selected from the undergraduate and graduate student populations. There is a great description of the details of the process here, and the results of each week’s testing are displayed on our dashboard.

  • In addition to the random selection process, how are additional students selected for testing?

    Specific groups of students can be selected for further sampling. This has included student organizations, residence halls and areas off campus where there has been some indication of virus infections, typically involving a single individual or a small number within an organization. The pre-emptive testing of a given population is a way to assess whether the virus is more pervasive within that group of students than is readily revealed via symptoms. This testing is designed to determine if there are individuals with asymptomatic infection or potentially are “pre-symptomatic” in their infection. This special sampling allows our infectious disease experts to discern how significant a threat of further infection may exist within that population, enabling us to educate those groups or implement a public health response to contain the virus and ensure it cannot quietly spread undetected.

    We report those numbers cumulatively with the random tests because, while not random, they are asymptomatic cases that are quite different from testing done for those students who present symptoms.

  • Are there any factors that would push you to test certain groups of students more frequently?

    The decision is based on the amount of activity or interaction present in particular groups. The theory is that if there is a high level of interaction between students within a group, residence or neighborhood, then the probability of further spread is higher. So where there is some indication of the presence of the virus, and there is a significant level of interaction within a group, residence hall or neighborhood, it is wise to do a special sampling of those areas.

  • Are students from each class year being selected for random testing with the same frequency?

    The 500 students invited to be tested are completely random, and so over time, there should be a reasonable sample size of students from each class year. We would not select a sample based on the class year, except if it fit the other factors mentioned above. All students — undergraduate, graduate and professional school students — are eligible to be selected in the random samples.

  • How are you accounting for roommates and suitemates? For instance, would someone be more or less likely to be tested if their roommate/suitemate is also being tested?

    The roommate and suitemate could be asked to participate in the extra sampling if their residence hall or floor was selected, but it would be a coincidence that both would be selected by the random sampling. A roommate or suitemate could also be identified through contact tracing and referred for testing.

  • Are students being taken out of the pool once they have been tested? (ie. A student will not be selected for testing again for a certain time after they have already been tested)

    Not at this time. The random sampling and special sampling has included those who may have been tested already. It is important to remember that tests of asymptomatic people are snapshots in time, and while someone may have tested negative last week, it is very possible that he or she could have been exposed since that test. It is also possible that the virus had not developed enough to be detected in the prior test. So we do not omit students because of previous test results.

  • How would you explain a few students getting selected for random testing twice over a few days?

    A student could be randomly selected every week; though that is unlikely. With a small student body and 500 tests a week, however, it is likely that students will be selected multiple times during the semester. If you have heard of someone being tested multiple times in a few days, it is likely that he or she was selected randomly, then was selected due to an affiliation with an organization, residence hall or neighborhood that was drawn for special asymptomatic testing.

  • Do you monitor Deacon OneCard swipes for students leaving/entering campus to know who to test?