COVID-19 Random Testing Program

COVID-19 Random Testing Program


Effective October 25, 2021, TC will implement a mandatory weekly COVID-19 random testing program. Random testing helps us identify transmission hotspots and clusters of infections, using real-time analytic strategies and rapid campus communications. The program is an additional step we are taking to protect not only the TC campus community, but our greater New York City and local communities as well. 

If you are selected to get tested, you must get a COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test (not a rapid test). Read this page carefully to learn about the program.

Overview

Each Monday, a random 5% sample of all TC community members who are eligible for testing will receive an alert email with the subject line “ACTION REQUIRED: You have been selected for the COVID-19 Random Testing Program.” Eligible community members include:

  • All faculty and staff, including those who work remotely
  • Students, including those who may be taking online courses
  • TC affiliates 

Students who were previously approved for fully remote learning this Fall or who enrolled in Online Degree Programs will be exempt from the testing pool. Individuals with approved vaccine exemptions already submit weekly test results and, thus, will not be part of the random testing program.

Employees who are approved for telework as a disability-related accommodation through Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) may be eligible for a COVID-19 Random Testing exemption. Please email oasid@tc.edu to inquire. If you plan to enter campus for any reason, however, you will be expected to comply with the random testing protocols.

If, at the time of receiving your selection email, you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days, you should not submit new test results for the Random Testing Program. Instead, please send proof of your previous positive test result to the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team at tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu.

Because this program is randomized, it is possible you will be selected for testing multiple times, perhaps even two weeks in a row. Each time you are selected, you must submit a new test result.

Once you receive a selection email, you have two weeks to get a new COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test (not a rapid test) and submit these new test results to TC. It may take several days to receive results from a COVID-19 PCR test, so we recommend you plan to get tested within 48 hours of receiving your selection email. It will take our staff approximately 2 days to verify test results. During the entire random testing process, you will be able to access campus as usual.

As the deadline approaches, if you have not yet submitted your test result, you will receive up to two reminder emails. If you do not submit results by the deadline, you will be in violation of the program and may face disciplinary action detailed below.

Submitting Your Test Results

Use the PCR Test Results form to upload your test results within your two week deadline. Even if you get tested at a Columbia University testing center, YOU MUST upload your results via this form. CU testing center results will not automatically be sent to TC.

Submit Your COVID-19 PCR Diagnostic Test Results

If your test results are negative, no further action is required. If your test results are positive, you will receive an email with the subject line “Positive COVID-19 PCR Test: Required Isolation and Next Steps” with instructions for isolating, and a member of the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team will contact you to conduct the appropriate contact tracing, per the CDC and NYC Department of Health guidelines, and advise you on next steps.

Where to Get Tested

All community members will have the option of scheduling an appointment at a Columbia University testing location. Employees will be given one hour of paid time off to get tested. Please let your supervisor know if you plan to get tested during the work day.

Schedule a PCR Test via the CU Health Online Patient Portal

Please note: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, CU will not be able to admit you for testing. Read on for alternate testing location options.

The Manhattan School of Music also provides community-based COVID-19 testing that is free and open to anyone, no appointment necessary (they will accept patients who may be experiencing symptoms of COVID-19). Visit their page to find information about the testing locations and hours. You may also choose to get tested elsewhere. To find a testing site in New York, visit this site. To find a testing site in other regions, please consult your local government website.

If you do not have access to a free PCR testing location and/or your insurance does not cover testing, TC will reimburse you for the cost. Please see details on how to request reimbursement in the FAQ section below.

Remember, even if you are studying or working remotely, you may be selected for testing. Employees who are approved for telework as a disability-related accommodation through OASID may be eligible for a testing exemption and should email oasid@tc.edu to inquire.

Noncompliance

The COVID-19 Random Testing Program is a critical part of TC’s health and safety plan for protecting our community against the spread of the virus. Individuals who do not comply will not be granted access to campus and may be subject to further disciplinary action. If you do not take a new COVID-19 PCR test and submit your results within the two week timeframe, you will receive an email notice indicating that you are in violation of the program guidelines and the following actions may be enacted.

Students

  • Students who are noncompliant after the 2 week testing deadline will receive a “red X” on the Daily Health Screening, and will not be permitted to access campus until they submit a new PCR test.
  • Remote learning access will not be granted to noncompliant students. 
  • Fall 2021 enrollment may be dropped for noncompliant students. 
  • A Spring 2022 registration hold will be placed on noncompliant students which will prevent future class registration. 
  • Noncompliant students may be found to be in violation of the Student Code of Conduct.  

Employees (faculty and staff) 

  • Employees who are noncompliant after the 2 week testing deadline will receive a “red X” on the Daily Health Screening and will not be permitted to access campus until they submit a new PCR test.
  • Employees who are noncompliant may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence, and/or may be subject to other appropriate action as determined by the College.

Affiliates

  • Affiliates who are noncompliant after the 2 week testing deadline will receive a “red X” on the Daily Health Screening (DHS).
  • Receiving the “red X” via the DHS means the Affiliate ID card will not work to access academic campus or the residence halls until they submit a new negative PCR test.
  • Failure to meet the negative test may affect the ability for the affiliate(s) and/or their family’s ability to remain in TC housing.

FAQ

Regular, randomized PCR testing for individuals who are not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can help detect and contain outbreaks of the virus. This program is being implemented at TC in an effort to maintain the health and wellbeing of our community members, whether they are on campus or elsewhere, and to protect against the spread of COVID-19.

Each Monday, those who have been randomly selected to participate in the COVID-19 Random Testing Program will receive an email with the subject line: “ACTION REQUIRED: You've Been Selected for TC's COVID-19 Random Testing Program.” The email will contain instructions on what your next steps should be to fulfill the requirements.

Yes. If selected, you are still required to get a new COVID-19 PCR test, even if you are fully vaccinated. You must also submit your test results through the PCR Test Results Form for review, within two weeks of receiving the random testing notification.

Because this testing program is randomized, it is possible you will be selected for testing multiple times, perhaps even two weeks in a row. Each time you are selected, you must submit new COVID-19 PCR test results.

Yes. You may get tested at Columbia University, or anywhere a CDC-approved COVID-19 PCR testing is available. Keep in mind, you must get a PCR test, rapid tests will not be accepted.

Yes, if you do not have access to a free PCR testing location and/or your insurance does not cover testing, TC will reimburse you for the cost. Please obtain a receipt from your test, complete the reimbursement form, and submit the form and a copy of your receipt (only include a copy of you receipt, not your test results). We encourage all individuals who are regularly accessing campus to seek a free test at CU Health or another free NYC testing location, such as the Manhattan School of Music.

Test results may be rejected for the following reasons:

  • You submitted results for a COVID-19 rapid test, not a PCR test. Only COVID-19 PCR diagnostic test results will be accepted.
  • The date of your test and/or results of your test that you entered into the submission form do not match the information on the copy of your test results upload document.
  • Your test results upload document is not legible.

If you are unsure why your test result was rejected, please email tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu.

If your test results are negative, no further action is required. If your test results are positive, you will receive an email with the subject line “Positive COVID-19 PCR Test: Required Isolation and Next Steps” with instructions for isolating, and a member of the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team will contact you to conduct the appropriate contact tracing, per the CDC and NYC Department of Health guidelines, and advise you on next steps.

Yes. Whether the test results of your COVID-19 PCR test is positive or negative, you must submit the results through the PCR Test Results Form for review, within two weeks of receiving the random testing notification.

Yes, all employees will receive one hour of paid time off to get tested during the work day. Please let your supervisor know when you plan to get tested.

Employees who are approved for telework as a disability-related accommodation through the Office of Access and Services for Individuals with Disabilities (OASID) may be eligible for a COVID-19 Random Testing exemption. Please email oasid@tc.edu if you receive a selection email and will not be entering campus and would like to request an exemption. If you are planning on entering campus for any reason, you are expected to comply with the random testing protocols.

No. If you have tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 90 days prior to receiving your testing selection email, do not submit a new PCR test result for this program. Instead, please send proof of your previous positive test result to the TC Environmental Health and Safety Team at tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu. Once 90 days have passed since your positive test result, you will be eligible to be called upon for the random testing program again.

If you do not submit your COVID-19 PCR test results within two weeks, you will receive a red “X” when you complete the Daily Health Screening and lose your access to campus. Students will not be allowed to access remote classes during this time, and employees may be placed on an unpaid leave of absence. Further disciplinary action may be taken if you remain noncompliant with the testing program. Read the Noncompliance section of this page for full details.

Yes. If you are selected for the random testing program, you will be able to access campus without interruption while you follow the process to get tested, submit your results, and receive verification that your results have been reviewed by TC. Your access to campus will only be removed if you submit positive results (in which case, you will need to follow the steps for self-solation, as directed by the Environmental Health and Safety team) or if you fail to submit your results within the two week deadline.

 Still have questions? Email tcrandomtesting@tc.columbia.edu.

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