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Testing Services at William & Mary

Updated October 9, 2020

Testing is an important part of W&M’s multi-part approach to supporting the health and safety of our community by mitigating the spread of COVID-19 among those who work and live on campus. William & Mary uses multiple testing partners and methods as part of our toolkit and will update this page as we implement new mechanisms.

A single column table with text content referring to testing options for COVID-19 at W&M
On-site Testing

As planned, on-site PCR testing for students and employees (for prevalence, symptomatic testing and other applications) continues to be conducted by VCU Health and its affiliates. Test collection in Williamsburg is being performed by medical professionals, and analysis is being performed by Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories, a national leader in testing services. Wisconsin Diagnostic Laboratories is a fully CAP and CLIA accredited high complexity laboratory, employing gold standard RT-PCR COVID-19 testing in accordance with all FDA guidance and standards. Shipping and logistics are being supported by Kallaco.

We have confidence in the testing we’ve conducted to date. We have enquired into specificity rates for testing so far (reported by Opteo Lab at 100% for the testing kits used). Our early prevalence testing conducted on-site has reinforced this confidence, and we have seen comparable positivity rates between groups of students and employees, tested on- and off-campus. Most importantly, we have been able to identify asymptomatic positive cases which has allowed those individuals to recover prior to returning to campus.

Expanded Testing

After the first several weeks with students on campus and based on patterns we have seen at other universities around the country,  William & Mary conducted a second required round of testing on September 8-19.  All students (undergraduate and graduate) who will be physically present on campus this fall were required to complete this second round.  This second round of testing was conducted using nasal swabs, as opposed to the oral swabs used in the pre-arrival and prevalence testing. A third round of required testing is planned for October. For more information, please visit the COVID-19 Testing page.

Student Health Center

Symptomatic students are tested using PCR and antigen testing.

Future Testing

W&M will continue to expand testing capacity as new testing tools are shown to be effective. Wastewater testing began October 7, with the campus divided into 13 testing zones which capture the majority of residence facilities.  After review by the university's Public Health Advisory Team, the testing may allow W&M to more effectively direct prevalence testing to areas that show some evidence of the virus.  The Public Health Advisory Team will analyze the results and determine what actions William & Mary needs to undertake in response.

A Note on Pre-arrival Testing

Pre-arrival tests, which many universities chose not to perform, were part of our comprehensive plan. We have heard your questions related to our testing partners, Kallaco (for logistics), and Opteo, the lab that has processed much of the university’s pre-arrival testing. We dug deeper to find answers, and while we have confidence in the science behind these tests, our contract clearly states that all tests sent from Kallaco to our community must receive FDA authorization.

We were assured that Opteo’s tests, including self-collection tests, were covered through the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). FDA-EUA approval guidance has shifted several times over the past few months. As a CLIA-certified lab, Opteo’s testing procedures must be rigorously validated well beyond the rapid-turnaround FDA approval process under COVID-19. As a precaution, we have changed labs until we receive a clearer answer to Opteo’s authorizations.

Given our results so far, we believe the pre-arrival testing has proved useful, by screening out a meaningful number of asymptomatic positive cases that therefore did not come to campus.

COVID-19 testing did not exist just a few short months ago. This means all of us will continue to learn as we go and this may require shifts in approach to improve and optimize our toolkit for mitigating transmission. We will continue to make any necessary changes to our health and wellness protocols to ensure we are doing our best to limit risk on our campus. Your safety remains our top priority.