Health Services Brings Student COVID Testing to Campus

By Caitlin Burns | December 22, 2020

As the phased reopening of Arcadia’s campus continues into the spring semester, Student Health Services (SHS) is ready to provide the required COVID-19 testing for students approved to reside on campus or visit as a commuter. 

Through weekly surveillance testing, SHS hopes to limit the transmission of COVID-19 and keep the community safe. In addition to required surveillance testing for students, faculty, and staff approved to be on campus, SHS will also provide symptomatic testing for those students who have been exposed to or show symptoms of coronavirus.

“You don’t always realize how you’re coming in contact with other people,” said Student Health Services Office Assistant Savannah Bullinger. “The purpose of surveillance testing is to monitor the current state of the epidemic in our University community and compare it to the community at-large in Montgomery County and Pennsylvania.”

There are 2 types of tests offered in SHS is antigen test (frequently referred to as a rapid test) and Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. Rapid test detects protein fragments specific to the coronavirus. Turnaround time for results is approximately 15 minutes. PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in Covid-19 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect it within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. Turnaround time is longer, generally around 2-3 day. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.

PCR test costs are covered by personal and University insurance. Rapid testing is available at a cost of $40 per test, which students can place on their student charge. With both tests, a healthcare provider will collect a swab sample from just inside the nose, approximately one inch inside a person’s nose where the cartilage meets the bone.  These are not the more invasive nasopharyngeal tests.

“The test scares some students who haven’t gone through it,” said Bullinger. “I feel like once students do it one time, they realize it’s really easy.”

Students who experience symptoms between the weekly surveillance testing should not wait until their next surveillance appointment to contact SHS; if they show symptoms, students should contact SHS immediately and not attend surveillance testing until they recover.

Additionally, surveillance testing is only available for graduate and undergraduate students who are approved to use campus facilities. SHS will be in contact with students who are approved to schedule appointments. Students should not forward their links to others.

Students living near campus who experience symptoms can call SHS to learn about testing options. University employees who are approved to be on campus in the spring semester are also required to participate in surveillance testing. Any employee who experiences symptoms, should contact their primary care doctor or urgent care for testing and not participate in their weekly surveillance testing.

Any University community member who has questions can contact