COVID-19 Testing

Here are our updated plans for COVID-19 testing protocols that will limit the spread of the coronavirus, while facilitating early diagnosis and rapid treatment.

Outdoor covid testing station

An Updated Approach

Since the global coronavirus pandemic swept into North Carolina in March of 2020, scientists, health care providers and public health officials have learned a great deal about the new pathogen that causes the illness known as COVID-19. As our knowledge of the disease has grown, so too have our surveillance and testing capabilities. Following our experience of bringing students back to campus in August, we know much more about how to use a robust testing plan to help keep our community safe.

We’re using everything we’ve learned about the pandemic to develop a comprehensive plan for COVID-19 testing in the spring of 2021. In this video, Dr. Julie Casani, director and medical director of Student Health Services, describes our testing plan for the spring.

More information about spring 2021 testing is presented below. For a more detailed look at NC State’s COVID-19 testing plan for the spring semester, you can read our executive summary.

Six Testing Cohorts

COVID-19 testing will be performed on six testing cohorts, defined as follows:

  1. Winter Wolfpack Welcome Week health surveillance — testing all students, faculty and staff before they return to campus.
  2. Students who are symptomatic or are direct contacts of those who test positive.
  3. Wolfpack Surveillance Program — an ongoing program testing a cross-section of students, faculty and staff.
  4. C-19 health surveillance — regular testing of students living in on-campus housing.
  5. Cluster health surveillance — testing of specific, identified at-risk populations.
  6. Athletics — routine testing of student-athletes.

More information about each cohort is provided below.

Winter Welcome Week Health Surveillance

After winter break, NC State will require proof of a negative COVID-19 test for returning students, faculty and staff, as outlined below. 

Students

  • All students living in residence halls, on-campus apartments and Greek Village must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to moving into their spring housing assignment. 
  • All students who are enrolled in face-to-face (fully in-person or hybrid) courses, or who need to be on campus for laboratory work (including research) or exams, must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to the first day of classes. 
  • All students who work on campus must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to returning to campus after the winter break. 
  • All students who live within an approximate one-mile radius of campus are required to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to the first day of classes. We will contact these students prior to the beginning of spring semester with additional information. 

For students in these groups who cannot get a test elsewhere, free testing will be available on campus to fulfill the above requirements. More information, including details about how to submit results, will be forthcoming. 

Faculty and Staff 

  • All faculty and teaching assistants who are leading face-to-face (fully in-person or hybrid) on-campus courses, labs or other activities must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to the first day of classes. 
  • All employees in critical service roles on campus, as determined by supervisors, and employees who engage the public in person must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to returning to campus after the winter break.
  • All researchers (faculty, staff and students) conducting research on and off campus must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within three to five days prior to returning to campus after the winter break. 

For employees in these groups who cannot get a test elsewhere, testing will be available on campus to fulfill the above requirements. More information, including details about how to submit results, will be forthcoming.

Symptomatic and Direct-Contact Students

Students who have symptoms of COVID-19 or who are direct contacts of people known to have the coronavirus will be tested, either as patients in SHS or at a mobile testing area.

Wolfpack Surveillance Program

The Wolfpack Surveillance Program was launched in August 2020 to help determine the extent of coronavirus infections on campus by only testing asymptomatic individuals. The program is designed to test 500 volunteers every two weeks: 300 students, 100 faculty members and 100 staffers. The program, which is ongoing through the fall semester, will continue in the spring.

C-19 Surveillance

Residents of on-campus housing — residence halls, apartments and Greek Village — will be provided testing every two weeks. This testing, already underway in the fall, will be expanded in the spring.

Cluster Surveillance

Students, faculty or staff who are part of a specific, identified at-risk population will be tested.

Athletics

The Department of Athletics will be conducting routine testing of student-athletes and staff in accordance with athletics conference and NCAA requirements.

Optimal Testing Levels

We project the size of the campus-area community for spring 2021 to be approximately 21,000 people (5,000 students in residence halls and Greek Village; 11,000 students in nearby housing; and 5,200 faculty and staff). Furthermore, it is estimated that in order for coronavirus testing to prove effective in helping to limit transmission and facilitate treatment, at least 2%-5% of the campus population would need to be tested every two weeks, which would amount to 400-1,000 people being tested. Under the current plan, we project that 3,200-5,700 people will be tested every two weeks, which would be well above the threshold required for optimal testing levels.

This information is subject to change. Last updated: Nov. 17, 2020.