COVID-19 Testing FAQs

Updated September 13, 2021

Who is required to do regular asymptomatic COVID-19 testing?
Please see our Health Guidelines page for the latest testing requirements.

Why is testing required?
Individuals who have not been vaccinated are at increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and also risk unknowingly spreading it to others, especially in light of highly infectious variants like delta. The goal of asymptomatic testing is to identify individuals who may be incubating infection, to isolate them promptly from the community, and initiate contact tracing to identify individuals who may have been exposed. While testing benefits the tested individual, routine testing has been shown to be the best way to identify asymptomatic infection and prevent spread in the community.

Why does the university require community members, including part-time staff who are only on campus 1-3 days per week, to test twice per week?
The university requires testing twice weekly for all unvaccinated staff who work on campus because of the pace at which the virus (particularly delta) can spread from person to person, even if an individual is asymptomatic. It is important to note that the goal of the university’s testing program is to help protect the health of the community.

What if I have symptoms?
You should self-schedule a symptomatic test through the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program, or you may call the Campus COVID Resource Line at 203-432-6604 if you want to speak with a nurse about your symptoms.

How do I schedule a test?
You can schedule your own test at a time and location on campus that works for you through covidtesting.yale.edu. You will need a MyChart account to schedule your test and to receive your results. If you do not have an account, you must enroll in MyChart, and to download the MyChart app to receive your results.

Where can I go for my test? Can I go to a non-university testing location?
Testing must be done through a Yale University test site to satisfy the testing requirement. The university does not have the operational capacity to incorporate results from external tests into our compliance system. There are several university test sites, including one on West Campus.It is important to note that the university offers on-campus testing opportunities 7 days per week.

What kind of test is it? Can I do a saliva test?
The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program uses a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) viral test. Testing is extremely fast, easy, and painless. You will enter a specially-designed test booth where a trained observer will guide you to swab around the inside of your nose and put the swab into the collection tube. We only offer the nasal swab test; the university does not have the operational infrastructure to intake and test saliva samples.

What happens to nasal swab samples collected in connection with Yale’s testing program?
The university does not test and/or retain nasal swab samples. Instead, the university immediately delivers samples to its testing partner, the Broad Institute of MIT/Harvard (The Broad). The Broad tests all samples for presence of the SARS CoV-2 virus and destroys them once testing has been successfully completed. The samples are not used for research purposes. If the sample tests positive for SARS CoV-2, the Broad will perform genetic sequencing of the SARS CoV-2 genome; it does not perform any other genetic tests on the sample, and is not sequencing human DNA, only viral. As such, your genetic information is not available for any purpose as a result of you undergoing COVID testing at Yale. The SARS CoV-2 genome genetic sequencing information is deidentified and is only shared with the CT Department of Public Health for analysis, such as to determine infection rates.

Why are nasal swab samples sent to the Broad for testing?
The university’s testing strategy requires it to do a very large number of tests. We have partnered with the Broad because it has the capacity to perform the testing we need.

Are the nasal swaps used for testing at Yale safe?
Yes, the nasal swabs used by the university are completely safe. They do not contain carcinogens or any other harmful substances. It is also important to note that the swabs are sterilized using a process that has been in place for over 40 years and poses no risk of harm to the individuals who use them.

How do I get my results?
Results go directly to your MyChart account which you can access on your smartphone (through the MyChart app) or on the computer. Results are available within 24-36 hours of testing, unless the sample is invalid or TNP and needs to be repeated.

What if my result says INVALID or TNP?
These tests are unable to be processed, either because there was not enough material in the sample (invalid) or there was another processing problem (TNP). You should self-schedule a repeat test.

What if I test positive?
If you test positive, do not come to campus. You will receive a call from Yale Health with detailed instructions regarding the need for isolation and next steps. You will also be asked to participate in Yale’s Contact Tracing Program.

Can a positive test result be wrong?
Yes, false positive tests can occur in certain circumstances. Yale is currently recommending that individuals who test positive and have NO symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 repeat the test 1-2 times for confirmation. Symptomatic tests, or positive tests in close contacts of a known case, do not need to be repeated. Individuals should quarantine until the result is confirmed.

I need a test for travel. What should I do?
We recommend that you schedule your test no sooner than 2 days (48hrs) prior to your departure date to ensure that your results are available on time. In addition, if your destination country also requires specific paperwork for travel, please get in touch with your Yale Health home department well in advance for assistance.