IU announced Tuesday it will begin a voluntary asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program on the Bloomington and IU-Purdue University Indianapolis campuses.
The announcement says 500 testing slots will be open each week and filled on a “first-come, first-served basis.” The tests will all be free.
However, the release states these voluntary testing slots will only be available during IU’s intersession — Nov. 30 through Feb. 8 — when far fewer students are in Bloomington because all classes have moved online. All on-campus housing is closed for the entirety of the intersession.
In his weekly webinars, Dr. Aaron Carroll, IU’s director of mitigation testing, has gotten many questions about whether IU will offer voluntary testing. He has said at some point that may happen with the school’s own labs opening. With the labs now running, IU is able to offer this program.
Previously, the only way to get a test through IU while asymptomatic was being selected for mitigation testing. Students could only request a COVID-19 test if they had symptoms, which required going through an online screening with an IU nurse who then determines if the student would get an appointment to be tested.
Carroll said in the release this voluntary option should be used by those who have not been selected for mitigation testing, know they could see people they haven’t been around in a long time or live in a higher risk environment.
The release also states those who have symptoms, have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days or are currently in quarantine as a close contact should not sign up for these tests.
It is unclear if this program will continue after in-person classes resume in February. The release said these are the same saliva tests IU has already been using for mitigation testing. This means these voluntary tests will not be rapid response. The voluntary tests will be administered in the same sites where mitigation tests are being done already.