Test and tracing program announced

July 23, 2020

Dear Students,

We are writing to provide more details around a key component of our COVID-19 public health planning at UNH. Testing is going to be a critical component of our efforts to safely welcome you back to our campuses this fall. Students (and faculty and staff) will be tested before returning to campus, again during the week of August 24 (Aug. 16 for UNH Law) as they arrive on campus, and then regularly throughout the semester. We are building one of the most comprehensive testing programs of any university in the nation—we believe this will help us improve the health and safety for everyone.

All students who plan on being on one of our campuses (Durham, Manchester or Concord) will need to submit proof of a negative test prior to arrival. UNH has partnered with ConvenientMD and Quest to provide pre-semester testing for all UNH students at no charge to the students. Testing will be provided by ConvenientMD at a drive through site on each campus and at selected locations around NH, ME, and MA. For students that are outside of New England or that cannot get to one of these sites prior to arrival, UNH has partnered with Quest to provide pre-semester testing. Options for testing will include use of a mail-in kit or in-person testing at one of Quest’s nationwide test centers or at one of their partner laboratories.  

Students should be tested no earlier than eight days prior to arrival on campus. We are aware that there are significant delays in testing nationally, but we have received a commitment from ConvenientMD and Quest that test results will be available for UNH students within 3-5 days after they receive the sample. Convenient MD and Quest will send the results directly to the student and UNH. Students with a positive test must remain at home until released to come back to campus. All diagnostic testing results whether generated by our UNH lab or external lab partners will be managed in a secure and confidential manner that meets HIPAA requirements. Positive and negative cases will be reported to NH Department of Health and Human Services, who will follow up with contact tracing to identify those who have been in close contact and need to quarantine.

UNH is also developing its own state-of-the-art testing lab and COVID-19 screening program that will serve all students, faculty and staff in Durham, Manchester and Concord. We plan to be operational by the time students arrive back for the fall semester, and will begin testing all students, faculty and staff starting August 24. Students will be tested as soon as they arrive to campus that week, with the expectation that all students will have been tested by Aug. 30. The UNH lab is using an RT-PCR test similar to that used by NH DHHS. The testing process involves screening of the entire university community regularly (with students as often as twice per week in the first few weeks). This will require individuals to swab their noses with a nasal swab (this is not the nasal cavity swab) and deposit samples in selected secure drop-off locations at designated dates and times.

UNH staff will assist N.H. Department of Health and Human Services in contact tracing. For details of what is involved in tracing, visit the NH DHHS website. UNH Health & Wellness staff will notify students who may be infected with COVID-19 and ask them to come to Health & Wellness for evaluation. Additionally, any students who are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 should contact Health & Wellness immediately. Trained personnel will provide assistance to NH DHHS to identify close contacts as defined on the NH DHHS website. Individuals testing positive or diagnosed with COVID-19 should plan to isolate at home or in a location where they can avoid shared/common spaces. Close contacts (roommates and other individuals who have been within 6 ft. for a period of 10 min. or longer) of those who have either tested positive or are presumed COVID-positive will be expected to quarantine at home or another location where they can avoid shared/common spaces until 14 days have passed since exposure. Students should develop an isolation/quarantine plan prior to arriving to one of our campuses. Isolation and quarantine space is available on the Durham campus for students that do not have another location.

Thank you for your cooperation. We will send a follow-up email next with information about how to access pre-arrival testing through ConvenientMD and Quest. The cost of all testing will be paid for if students use the resources provided by UNH.

Sincerely,

Paul Dean
Chief of Police /Associate VP for Public Safety and Risk Management and Co-Chair of UNH Testing and Tracing Committee

Marian McCord
Senior Vice Provost for Research, Economic Engagement and Outreach; and Co-Chair of UNH Testing and Tracing Committee