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COVID-19 Testing at W&M

To safeguard the health of students, faculty, staff and the surrounding community, William & Mary has developed a COVID-19 testing protocol in partnership with the VCU Health System and Kallaco Health & Technology.

A single-column table with text content detailing the different COVID-19 testing protocols for W&M
On-Campus Census Testing

William & Mary conducts free, on-site census COVID-19 testing for students local to Williamsburg and those taking classes on campus in the spring semester.

Testing is required for:

  • All residential students
  • Students taking blended courses
  • Students who live within 30 miles of campus (with limited exceptions for students enrolled in certain graduate programs)
  • Students with a W&M meal plan

Students who wish to come to campus, but aren't in any of the groups listed above, can opt-in for the testing by completing the sign-up form.

Depending on the students’ circumstances or the Testing Coordination Team’s protocols, students may receive census tests through their CSU mailboxes or by visiting the North Henry Street clinic or Kaplan Arena. Directions for obtaining and submitting census tests are emailed to students from the coordination team or Healthy Together. If you have any questions, please contact the Testing Coordination Team at [[COVIDtest]].

Faculty & Staff Voluntary Testing

Free or partially subsidized voluntary COVID-19 testing is available for all W&M faculty and staff members, without a physician's referral. This at-will testing is intended to provide asymptomatic employees an additional tool for risk mitigation as they move between the campus community and other populations. This testing resumes the week of January 25 by appointment only; visit the appointment portal to book.

The at-will tests, held at the VCU Health Clinic at 332 N. Henry Street in Williamsburg, take approximately 15 minutes. Appointments are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Please bring a photo ID to the appointment.

To see your results, you will need a free account registered with Kallaco Health & Technology before your appointment. To get started with an account, please visit the Kallaco portal. Click "Forgot Password" to create a new account, and do not use your W&M password. Test results will be available to view within Kallaco in three business days.

If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, do not schedule an at-will testing appointment. Consult your healthcare provider instead. This also applies to faculty and staff members who have been identified as close contacts of a COVID-19-postive person -- begin quarantine and consult your healthcare provider; do not schedule an at-will test through William & Mary.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to email [[COVIDtest]].

Prevalence Testing

William & Mary's prevalence testing program weekly selects a number of students, faculty, staff and contractors to take COVID-19 tests so that the university can rapidly assess potential community spread. W&M tests at least 5% of its student population and 2% of its employees weekly. These tests are administered at no cost to the individuals.

Vaccination Exemption: Consistent with the CDC’s guidelines for fully vaccinated people, William & Mary is exempting fully vaccinated faculty, staff and students from participation in prevalence and census testing and quarantine if identified as a close contact and asymptomatic. Visit the W&M COVID-19 vaccination page for more information.

Depending on the Testing Coordination Team’s protocols, students may receive census tests through their CSU mailboxes or by visiting the North Henry Street clinic at 332 N. Henry Street in Williamsburg. If selected, individuals are notified by email and provided instructions for making a testing appointment. To prepare, all faculty, staff and students must be registered with Kallaco Health & Technology.

Students should try to schedule the testing appointment around class schedules, but if a conflict cannot be avoided, they are excused from class. Employees should arrange an appropriate test time with their supervisors. If sick or symptomatic when selected for testing, students should contact the Student Health Center and faculty and staff contact a healthcare provider. Do not make a prevalence testing appointment. You will be automatically included in the next week's round of prevalence testing.

If an individual receives a notification of prevalence testing in error, because they are not attending or visiting any William & Mary properties within the next six weeks or if they live more than 30 miles away, please contact [[COVIDtest]].

Participating in prevalence testing is a condition to which we have agreed in order to work and study in person at William & Mary under the Healthy Together Community Commitment. The information it provides allows us to better support our health, and for individuals to better support the health of students, colleagues and others within our community. It is mandatory. We hope that all community members will participate willingly, but need to advise that failure to follow testing instructions may result in disciplinary action.

Testing Exceptions and Return to Campus for Recent Positives

Tests can continue to detect viral material in those who have previously tested positive after they are no longer infectious. Following CDC guidelines, W&M will exempt students, employees and dining workers from pre-arrival and prevalence testing for a period of 90 days after the date a positive test was administered, upon documentation of the result. To provide documentation of the prior positive test result, please visit the Kallaco portal “Records” menu and follow the prompts to “Upload Record.”

Faculty, staff and students who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are exempted from prevalence testing. Individuals are considered fully vaccinated by the CDC if there has been at least two weeks since their final dose in a one- or two-shot vaccination sequence.

Photographs of the vaccination card provided during the COVID-19 vaccination are required to be exempted from testing. To provide proof of vaccination, visit the Kallaco portal “Records” menu and follow the prompts under “Upload Record.”

Wastewater Testing

Wastewater testing at William & Mary divides campus residential facilities into 16 zones, capturing the majority of residence halls and adding capacity to detect COVID-19 trends on campus. This type of population-level testing allows the university to monitor broad patterns on campus. Wastewater testing is not diagnostic for individuals.

Results from wastewater testing are analyzed by William & Mary’s Public Health Advisory Team, which includes medical staff as well as faculty with expertise in public health and epidemiology, to inform the focus of prevalence testing. Both prevalence testing and wastewater testing work in conjunction with other protocols, such as contact tracing and individual testing, to provide a micro- to macro-level understanding of COVID-19 at William & Mary and to mitigate spread.

End-of-Semester Testing

In the fall, William & Mary offered free COVID-19 tests for students, faculty and staff who wished to be tested before returning home at the end of the semester. Depending on the timing of vaccinations, William & Mary may again offer voluntary testing for students and employees who wish to be tested prior to returning home for the summer.

Types of Tests

William & Mary’s pre-arrival, prevalence census testing, at-will tests (employees) and exit testing programs rely on polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, molecular nasal or throat swab tests that detect the coronavirus in the body. PCR tests are currently the “gold standard” of coronavirus tests available, with a much lower rate of false positives and false negatives than other types of tests. They are relied on in identifying and diagnosing active positive cases of COVID-19. William & Mary provides these test for free to students, faculty and staff.

Rapid, or antigen, tests, while very accurate in diagnosing COVID-19, have a higher false negative rate, meaning that they have a greater chance of missing a positive case than does a PCR test. These types of tests detect the presence of molecules on the surface of the virus. While a positive rapid antigen result is sufficient for a diagnosis of COVID-19 in a symptomatic patient, a negative result using this test in symptomatic patients should be followed up with a confirmatory PCR.

William & Mary does use some rapid tests at the Student Health Center in the Athletics population, which must test much more frequently to comply with league standards, as well as the university’s requirements. The rapid tests supplement the use of the PCR test. A rapid test that produces a positive result in this asymptomatic population is also confirmed with a PCR test.

Antibody testing looks for the presence of antibodies that the body has made in response to a viral infection. This test can be used to see if a person has had COVID-19 in the past. Antibodies protect the individual from future infection with the same virus. Short-lived antibodies, known as immunoglobulin G, or IgG, develop within 24 hours of an infection and generally fade over several days. These are replaced by what are known as immunoglobulin M (IgM) antibodies, which may last for months, or longer. Experts do not currently know how long the protective IgM antibodies remain after a person is infected with COVID-19.

William & Mary also deploys wastewater testing, which is not used to diagnose individuals. Instead, this test detects the presence of coronavirus in an area’s wastewater and helps direct the university’s prevalence test program. If an area of campus tests positive for COVID-19 through wastewater testing, the university’s testing group would follow up by examining the results of prior prevalence testing and positive cases, identifying the most likely source and testing more individuals in that area by PCR test.

The U.S. Federal Drug Administration has published guides on types of approved COVID-19 tests currently available.

Students who experience COVID-19 symptoms during the semester should visit the feeling ill resource page. Students who test positive must complete the form at Report COVID to initiate case management that will assist with isolation requirements and help you navigate classes and study.

Employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms should make an appointment with their health care provider for a clinical assessment. Employees who test positive or have been identified as a close contact are required to complete the form at Report COVID. They must remain off campus until cleared to return by their assigned case manager, who may ask for documentation from a physician or health care provider.