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Participation in community saliva testing

The more students who participate in community saliva testing, the faster we can stop COVID-19 outbreaks before they start.

Updated: January 21, 2021

Here’s what you need to know:

  • On-campus residents are required to participate in community saliva testing once a week.
  • Commuter students are strongly encouraged to participate in community saliva testing.
  • Students, undergraduates and graduates, will be eligible for rewards for participation.

Community saliva testing is one of our best lines of defense against COVID-19. The more students who participate, the faster we can stop outbreaks before they start.

The simple act of participation in saliva testing helps protect you and everyone around you. The participation rate and the trends indicated by community saliva testing also guide the addition and removal of temporary restrictions.

Testing is required once a week for students living on campus and strongly encouraged for commuter students. All students who participate—undergraduates and graduates— will be eligible for prizes such as gift packs from the VolShop and technology packages from VolTech.

Learn more about the incentives program.

Testing begins Wednesday, January 20.

On-campus students

Students living on campus are required to participate in community saliva testing .

Students can search for their residence hall on the COVID-19 testing calendar for upcoming dates and times. Collection events at residential locations will be on the same day and at the same time each week. Please note:

  • Sorority Village residents test on Mondays, 7:30–11 a.m., in the lobby on the lower level of Sorority Village Center.
  • Fraternity Park residents test on Wednesdays, 7:30–11 a.m., in the lobby of the Volunteer Boulevard entrance of TRECS.
  • Kappa Sigma residents test at Hess Hall on Tuesdays, 7:30–11 a.m.

Incentives include individual prizes and rewards for your residence.

To participate:

  1. Testing kits will be provided through your residence hall, fraternity house, or sorority house. The kits include tubes and bar codes.
  2. Spit in one of the tubes as soon as you wake up in the morning and before you eat, drink, rinse your mouth, brush your teeth, smoke, or take medication. Cap the tube securely with the screw cap provided. Put your bar code on the tube.
  3. Go to the collection location. Bring your VolCard.
  4. Deliver the capped tube to one of the coolers at the collection location at your earliest convenience. Coolers will be available between 7.30 and 11 a.m. Please check that the cap is secure before you deliver your sample.
  5. Keep your extra tubes, caps, and bar codes in a safe place for future testing. If you lose them, let your hall director or house director know. Extra tubes and bar codes will also be at collection locations. Bring your VolCard to get a new bar code.

You are encouraged to participate on your residence’s test day, but what’s most important is that you participate once a week as required. If you miss your day, you have options:

  • Bring your sample to a commuter community saliva testing day or another residence’s testing day. Testing dates are listed on the COVID-19 testing calendar.
  • Students who live on campus can drop off a sample at the Student Health Center Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Samples must be properly tubed, sealed, and bar coded in advance.

Your participation will still be counted with your residence group for the participation incentives.

Commuter students

Participation is not required for commuter students, but your participation will help our entire campus community.

  1. Go to MyUTK. You will see a message about community saliva testing and a request to let us know whether you plan to participate. Check the box to indicate your intention to participate.
  2. Check the events calendar for COVID-19 commuter community saliva testing dates and locations.
  3. Wait 30 minutes after eating or drinking before providing your sample.
  4. Show up to a commuter testing event. Bring your VolCard.
  5. Everything you need will be there, including a bar code and a tube to collect your sample. Just follow the instructions when you arrive.

Commuter sample collection will be from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., or as long as supplies last, each week at these locations starting Wednesday, January 20.

  • Mondays: Brehm Animal Science Building Room 142
  • Wednesdays: Student Union Room 362
  • Thursdays: John C. Hodges Library, Mary Greer Room

About 500 samples can be collected at each event.

Commuter students will be eligible for individual prizes through the incentives program.

Saliva test results

Students are contacted by the Student Health Center only if results from the saliva tests indicate that they need a follow-up individual diagnostic test. Students generally do not need to self-isolate after submitting saliva samples for regular community saliva testing.

The on-campus saliva testing laboratory typically delivers results to the Student Health Center in one to two business days.

The laboratory is fully operated by the university and has established stringent protocols for processing saliva samples:

  • Participant DNA is not extracted in the analysis process. Only viral RNA is obtained, and the process does not generate information that can be used to trace individual participants.
  • Saliva collection tubes are bar coded, but the testing laboratory does not have access to personal information for any participant. The laboratory submits results to the Student Health Center, and only Student Health Center personnel have the ability to identify individuals whose saliva results indicate they need to schedule a diagnostic test.
  • Saliva samples are not used for any other purpose and are destroyed after testing is complete.

Exceptions

  • Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days are not required to participate. Your test must have been a PCR or antigen test, the only tests considered diagnostic by the CDC. If your test was for antibodies, you need to participate in saliva testing if required. If you completed a university COVID-19 self-isolation form, you are already in the university’s system as having tested positive and do not need to take any action.
  • Because student-athletes already participate in regular testing through their involvement in athletics, they are exempt from community saliva testing.

Vaccinated students

Students who have had a COVID-19 vaccine should participate in community saliva testing if required.

Additional testing services

Additional testing options are available for students (undergraduate and graduate) and for employees. Students can receive COVID-19 testing through the Student Health Center regardless of their eligibility for other services.

  • All students can schedule a test with the Student Health Center COVID Clinic, with a turnaround time of one to two days. Call 865-974-5080. There is no charge for testing.
  • Free EverlyWell home test kits are available at the Student Health Center for students and employees who do not have symptoms. The turnaround time for results is two to three days. Learn how to get a free EverlyWell COVID-19 test home collection kit.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
865-974-1000


The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.