The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program

Yale is currently offering free return-to-campus viral testing for all faculty, staff, and students who have been invited back to campus for work or study for phase two of research reactivation in July of 2020. For students, faculty, and staff returning to campus for fall 2020, please refer to and carefully review the COVID-19 testing policy found on the Health & Safety Guidelines page.

The university encourages everyone to participate in the screening program soon after resuming onsite work or study. Screening close to the time of coming back to campus will help Yale medical and public health experts to detect asymptomatic occurrences of infection and to prevent further transmission by performing contact tracing and providing guidance about self-isolation and health precautions.

The screening program is only offering testing to individuals who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, or stomach upset). Those who are experiencing symptoms should self-isolate and contact their health care provider. In addition, repeated testing through this screening program will only be offered to individuals living in residential colleges or other university housing or are at higher risk for exposure to COVID-19 due to the nature of their work.

Screening is available as a drive-thru or walk-up service in the Prospect Sachem Garage. An appointment is required for screening. Additional information about the screening program is below.

About Testing for COVID-19 at Yale

The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program uses viral testing, which checks if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The test involves taking a sample by swabbing the inside of one nostril. The sample is then analyzed in a laboratory to determine if SARS-CoV-2 is present.

Test Results

The result is positive if SARS-CoV-2 is found, which means that you were infected with the novel coronavirus at the time the sample was taken. You may develop COVID-19 symptoms in the future, or you may never develop symptoms. It is possible to transmit the virus even in the absence of symptoms. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days to prevent transmission to others. If your test result is positive from this screening program, a nurse or clinician will call you to review your results and to initiate contact tracing.

The result is negative if SARS-CoV-2 is not found in the sample. This means that you were most likely not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, viral testing may not detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in the very early stages of infection, so it is possible for you to test positive later and for you to be able to spread the virus. Thus, you should still follow health precautions.

Viral testing does not tell you if you have had COVID-19 in the past because it cannot detect antibodies in your sample. Viral testing can only detect the current presence of SARS-CoV-2.

Antibody Testing

The Yale COVID-19 Screening Program does not use antibody testing, which determines if there has been prior exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 may take 1-3 weeks to develop, and the strength of the immune response may be lower in mild or asymptomatic infection. It is not yet known whether antibodies indicate protection against future COVID-19 disease. Antibodies are not currently recommended for diagnosis or for guiding individual clinical care. Antibody testing may be useful at the population level to determine prior levels of exposure to the virus.

Eligibility for the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program

All faculty, staff, and students who have returned to work or study on campus are eligible to participate in the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program. The following criteria must be met as well:

  • Not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g., fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, or stomach upset)
  • Have not tested positive for COVID-19 previously

Frequently Asked Questions

Participation in COVID-19 screening

NOTE: This FAQ applies to those returning to campus for phase 2 of research reactivation. For students, faculty, and staff returning to campus for fall 2020, please review carefully the COVID-19 testing policy found on the Health & Safety Guidelines page.

Is this screening mandatory?

A:  Faculty and staff returning to campus will be offered testing, but it will not be required. Those who have been in close contact with individuals with confirmed COVID-19 infection will be offered testing, but it will not be required. Graduate and professional students returning to campus will be required to have a return-to-campus test to ensure that they will not be introducing asymptomatic cases to campus after a period at home, and to provide increased confidence of a safe campus for students attending classes and meeting together.

Based on these balanced considerations, public health experts may determine that other groups have a testing requirement as we move through the coming months.

Who is eligible to participate in the Yale COVID-19 screening program?

A:   The Yale COVID-19 screening program is for faculty, staff, and students who work, study, or live on campus, who are not showing symptoms of COVID-19, and who do not currently have confirmed COVID-19 infection.

Yale community members who are working remotely are not eligible for this testing program and should contact their personal health care provider for questions related to COVID-19 screening. Individuals who are experiencing symptoms that may be suggestive of COVID-19 should remain at home and call their personal health care provider to discuss testing and treatment. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, or stomach upset.

If I tested positive in the past, should I be screened again?

A:  If you have already tested positive for COVID-19, you should not be retested at this time.

If I have tested negative in the past, can I be screened again at this time?

A:  Yes, you can be screened again if you are just returning to campus for the first time. Repeated testing in the absence of symptoms or a particular high risk exposure is not recommended. If you feel you need another test, please call the Campus Covid Resource Line at 203-432-6604 or call your primary care provider to discuss your concerns.

I am not feeling well. Should I be screened?

A:  No, you should not participate in the Yale COVID-19 Screening Program. If you are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19, you must stay home, notify your supervisor as soon as possible, and contact your personal health care provider to discuss testing and treatment. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, muscle aches, loss of sense of smell or taste, or stomach upset.

Details of screening and obtaining results

What type of sample is required? How will it be collected?

A: Testing requires a deep nasal sample (swab inserted into one nostril). Samples will be collected by a healthcare provider at the testing facility.

Will I be charged a copay or fee for this test?

A: No

How long will it take to receive my results?

A: Results will typically be available within 48 to 72 hours from sample collection.

How will I find out my results?

A: Results will be shared with you through MyChart. If you do not already have a MyChart account, you will be offered an opportunity to sign up for one following the scheduling process. If you are still unable to access MyChart, email MyChart Support or call them at 203-688-2231 and press option #5.

Interpreting and responding to different test results

What does it mean if I test positive?

A:  A positive test indicates the presence of the novel coronavirus in your system. You may develop symptoms in the future, or you may never develop symptoms. It is possible to transmit the virus even in the absence of symptoms. You will need to self-isolate for 10 days to prevent transmission to others. If your test result is positive, someone from Employee Health will contact you to provide instructions and answer questions.

What does it mean if I test negative?

A:  A negative test means that the novel coronavirus is not detected by the test at this time. Individuals who test negative may still become infected in the future and need to follow all recommended workplace and community precautions. There is a small chance of a false negative.

What will Yale do with these results?

A: Because this testing is part of a workplace safety program, Yale may store and track these results. Your supervisor will be notified of positive test results to ensure that safety measures are being taken in your workplace. Others in your workplace will be contacted by Employee Health for contact tracing, and Employee Health will ask your close contacts to quarantine for 14 days.

If I test positive, how long will I be required to be out of work?

A: You must self-isolate at home for 10 days. Should you become symptomatic during that time, you will need to speak to Employee Health or your healthcare provider. Your period of self-isolation will be extended to 14 days from symptom onset and 3 days after resolution of fever and improvement.

If I test positive and have to be out of work, how will I be paid?

A: Employees will be paid their regular scheduled hours while out of work after screening positive.  Employees will not have to use PTO.

If I test positive, is my immediate family eligible to be tested?

A:  Screening through this workplace safety program is available only to Yale faculty, staff, and students who work, study, or live on campus. Immediate family members should contact their own health care providers so that they can be tested according to the public testing protocols.

If I test negative and then develop symptoms, how long should I wait to be retested?

A:  If you are experiencing any symptoms, you must remain at home, notify your supervisor, and contact your personal health care provider for testing and treatment.

Pilot COVID-19 Screening Program (May 19 to June 10, 2020)

From May 19 to June 10, 2020, Yale offered free, voluntary screening to faculty, staff, and trainees authorized to be on campus. The pilot program tested over 1,490 individuals. Of those asymptomatic individuals tested, 4 had positive tests, and 30 percent of those invited to be screened completed a test. Feedback from individuals who participated in the pilot program helped inform the design of the larger-scale Yale COVID-19 Screening Program.