COVID-19 Testing Strategies

COVID-19 Testing Strategies

As part of the University of Arizona Test, Trace, and Treat campus reentry strategy, the University of Arizona established the Test All Test Smart Program. In this highly adaptable and dynamic program, all asymptomatic students and employees are able to test for COVID-19 on campus, utilizing a variety of testing methods. In addition, Campus Health offers COVID-19 testing for symptomatic students and employees.

See the dashboard of campus COVID-19 testing data


Symptomatic Testing

All students and employees who experience COVID-19 symptoms are directed to test at Campus Health or their healthcare provider. Campus Health usually administers an antigen test first. If the antigen test is negative, an RT-PCR test is typically administered.


Mandatory Testing for Selected Groups of Students

At the start of the Fall 2020 semester, all dorm students were required to have an antigen test before move-in. Because they provide a strong indication of overall campus prevalence, asymptomatic dorm students are tested regularly through random selection (once every 7-8 days). When potential outbreaks are identified, individual floors or whole dorms are tested as part of a comprehensive mitigation strategy. In Spring 2021, all students spending time on-campus will be expected to participate in weekly testing, which will include both antigen and PCR testing.


Voluntary Testing for Asymptomatic Students and Employees

Asymptomatic on-campus students, off-campus students, and employees are encouraged to participate in voluntary antigen or PCR testing available at multiple sites across campus.


Random Sample of Asymptomatic Employees

In further efforts to monitor prevalence, asymptomatic employees are randomly selected for PCR testing with oversampling for groups that are at elevated risk of exposure, including those who work in facilities maintenance and faculty who teach in-person classes. In Spring 2021, a testing program for employees spending time on-campus will be implemented.


Athletes, ROTC, and Performing Arts Students

Some groups, such as intercollegiate athletes, ROTC, and performing arts students, whose activities involve high levels of interaction, are tested regularly (1-5 times per week) by Campus Health and UA Athletics medical staff.


Students and Employees at Remote Locations

Students and employees at remote locations periodically have the opportunity to participate in PCR testing.


Pop-Up Testing Sites

During periods when high volume of testing is required (e.g. pre-holiday travel, campus reentry, etc.), additional temporary test sites are established.


State-wide Antibody Testing

Through an IRB approved research study, students, employees, and Designated Campus Colleagues (DCCs) are invited to participate in COVID-19 antibody testing, which is available at sites across the state.


Partnership with the Pima County Health Department

The Pima County Health Department offers free testing sites at various sites around Pima County. When there are indications among high density communities (Greek Life, large apartment complexes) of COVID-19, the Pima County Health Department offers pop-up testing on site.


Wastewater Based Epidemiology

An Environmental Science research team with expertise in wastewater-based epidemiology tests the wastewater that comes out of our dorms and other buildings on campus for COVID-19. In some cases, if the levels of COVID-19 in the wastewater from a particular dorm or building reach high enough levels, public health professionals on campus recommend testing all residents of the dorm or regular occupants of the campus building.


Contact Tracing

Traditional and app-based contract tracing directs those who have been exposed experiencing symptoms to get tested at Campus Health and those who are asymptomatic to participate in voluntary testing at Test All Test Smart sites.

More Testing Information and FAQs