Testing Q&A

Last Updated: 1/22/2020

The University is partnering with the Broad Institute of Cambridge, Mass., using a gold-standard technology.

Spring Semester Testing 

I am concerned about the new, more contagious variant of COVID. How will RWU address this issue in the spring semester? 

The Broad testing on campus does detect the new variant, so testing will continue to identity positive cases from any virus strain and variant thus far. We must be vigilant about masking, cleaning, and distancing, since the transmission rate is higher for the new variant. In the fall, thanks to our protocol, RWU had an overall COVID-19 positivity rate of 0.2%. 

If I tested positive for COVID-19 during Winter Break, should I still sign up for a testing time? 

Yes, you should sign up for testing days and times now, even though you will not use them right away. You do not want your days/times to be closed out as an option and not available to you later when you begin testing. For the start of semester, you will be exempt from testing until the 90-day period after your positive test has been reached. If the date of your positive test is on record with RWU, we will send you an email with your personalized link to sign up for testing the week that your 90- day timeline is up.

Where is the testing center? 

Move-in testing will be located in the Field House, like last semester.  After Jan 30, testing will move to the Upper Gym. 

How often will members of the community be tested? 

For all students, faculty and staff who are learning and working on campus regularly and expect to have person-to-person interactions, the default expectation is to be tested twice weekly. Students, faculty, and staff who will have limited interactions and time on campus may test once weekly. Students, faculty, and staff who are fully remote and will not be on campus will not be tested at RWU. 

I am fully remote this semester. Do I need to sign up for COVID-19 testing and complete a daily screening? 

No, this is not necessary for remote students, faculty, and staff. 

Even if I do not need to come to campus, would I still be eligible for COVID-19 testing at RWU? 

No, testing is offered only for students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus, either full- or part-time, this spring semester. 

Do I need to be tested for COVID-19 if I will be visiting campus only briefly? 

It is not necessary to be tested in advance of infrequent, short-in-nature campus visits where you have no person-to-person interaction.

However, masks must be worn at all times on campus (inside and outside buildings) and all other practices for cleaning and physical distancing must be strictly followed. 

What is the policy/procedure for COVID-19 testing for students who are commuting every day to RWU? 

The procedure is the same. You'll test twice weekly on a regular schedule, picking a set time that works with your schedule. That time will stay with you for the semester. 

What are the testing times for the Providence Campus, including University College?

Providence campus testing is on a walk-in basis, no appointment required. 

  • Tuesday mornings, 7:30 – 10am 
  • Wednesday afternoons, 3 – 6pm 

Can Bristol faculty and staff utilize the Providence Campus for testing, routinely or occasionally? 

Yes. And Providence-based faculty and staff may sign up to test in Bristol as well. 

How should people who are only on campus Monday, Wednesday and Friday schedule their tests? 

Testing near 72 hours apart is ideal. However, if you are not able to come to campus on other days just for your test, then consider testing early Monday and late Wednesday, to spread two tests as far apart as possible. 

If I need to get a test off-campus, where can one get a COVID-19 test in Rhode Island? 

Here is a link to locations of COVID testing in Rhode island.  


Have there been conversations – or will there be – with RIDOH about the University being a distribution site for vaccines for employees, when different groups are eligible? 

Yes. They have asked us about our capacity to do so and our ability to refrigerate and store vaccines. No decision about timing has been determined yet, but we are in contact regularly and will provide information as it is available. 

If the COVID vaccine becomes widely available, would it be mandated similar to the flu shot? 

Once the vaccine is readily available, we would definitely consider requiring it, with religious or medical exceptions, just as with the flu shot. Due to the current state of the vaccine rollout, it is unlikely this will be possible during the spring semester timeline. 

Will I need to be tested on campus if I have been fully vaccinated for COVID-19? 

Yes. Any individual who has received a COVID-19 vaccine is still required to sign up for and follow campus testing protocol . You should email proof of vaccine to Health Services at health@rwu.edu

Medical experts are saying that while you are safer and may not show symptoms when vaccinated, there is still a chance that you could carry and transmit COVID-19 to others. Staying in the testing program after vaccination helps ensure everyone else around you (who may not be vaccinated) is protected. As such, there may still be a need to isolate or quarantine for those who have been vaccinated. 

While we are waiting for clearer guidance from the CDC and RIDOH, please let Health Services know you have been vaccinated, and we'll keep you on mailing list so we can let you know of any changes in guidance that arise. 

If I was vaccinated and I tested positive, do I have to go into isolation? 

The vaccine protects you; being in the testing program protects others around you. If you test positive, you can still spread the virus to others. If you test positive, you will still have to go into isolation unless new data indicates that vaccinated people do not spread COVID-19. 


What are the R.I. quarantine requirements for students from nearby states? 
Rhode Island has removed previous quarantine requirements for those coming from Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

While Massachusetts currently requires people traveling into Rhode Island to quarantine upon return to Massachusetts, the state’s guidelines exempt transitory travel. Dropping off a child at college and spending a limited amount of time to help move in is considered transitory travel and exempt from the quarantine requirement upon return. More information can be found here: https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order

State guidelines regarding travel can change from week to week, so it’s best to research and be informed of your state’s current guidelines.

How is RWU meeting on-campus housing needs?
Roger Williams University has been able to meet our entering class housing needs with health and safety as our top priorities. The University is committed to housing all new entering students in doubles or singles, and will not “triple” students in double rooms. Due to the need for reducing population density on campus and setting aside dedicated quarantine and isolation housing for students related to the COVID-19 pandemic, RWU is also currently maintaining an active waiting list for students, including students who had planned to study abroad and no longer have that opportunity. 

What general safety measures is RWU implementing? 
RWU will be providing face masks for all employees and students, and face masks will be required in all public settings in addition to maintaining – to the fullest extent possible – at least 6 feet of social distancing in those settings. We are developing revised occupancy limits for common areas and lounges, will not be allowing outside guests to enter campus buildings or to stay overnight in residence halls. Additional cleaning protocols for all buildings, including residence halls and bathrooms, have been established and will be monitored by administrative leadership in Facilities, Residence Life and Dining.

Collecting Samples 

What kind of testing is taking place?
This is a self-administered swab in the front of your nose (anterior nares) rather than the "deeper" and more invasive swab. It is not a serology or blood testing. 

Is the sample collection supervised or unsupervised? 
All sample collection is supervised. 

Who supervises the sample collection? 
The sample collection process is supervised by trained RWU staff. Two outside RNs will assist with the two-week period of student check-in testing.  

How do I properly collect a sample? 
A trained RWU staff member will guide you through the following process. Please follow the instructions of the supervising staff member. 

  1. Blow your nose, and discard the tissue in the trash
  2. Sanitize your hands 
  3. Open the swab packaging. Don't touch the soft tip with your hands!
  4. Remove the collection tube cap by pulling up.
  5. Pick up the swab without touching the soft tip. 
  6. Insert soft tip in one nostril. Rotate the soft tip around the inside edge of your nostril at least three times. 
  7. Pinch your nose and hold it closed for ten seconds
  8. Twist the swab three times while pinching
  9. Pull it out of that nostril
  10. Repeats step 6-9 in the second nostril. 
  11. Put the swab into the collection tube with the soft tip facing down. 
  12. Push the cap completely down on the collection tube. 
  13. Sanitize hands 
  14. Hand tube to staff member 

Still wondering what to expect with the testing process? Check out this video explaining the easy procedure:


How is the sample tested in the lab?

  1. The sample tube is sent to the Broad Institute Clinical Research Sequencing Platform, a CLIA-certified clinical lab, where it is unpacked in a clean room and registered in the laboratory's electronic system for verification and tracking. 
  2. With a safety hood in the lab, an automated liquid handling machine transfers the liquid from each barcoded tube into one well of a 96-well plate. This allows dozens of individual samples to be processed at once. 
  3. The liquid handling machine extracts any viral RNA from the samples. Automating this step speeds up the RNA extraction, allowing for 2,000 tests to be processed each day. 
  4. Each plate is inserted into one of four high-throughput quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) machines. The qPCR machine generates many copies of the COVID-19 virus's genetic material to make it easier to detect. 
  5. Inside the qPRC machine, a fluorescent dye that sticks to viral complementary DNA is mixed with each sample. The machine measures the fluorescent signal, which indicates the presence of the COVID-19 virus.


How long do I have to wait for my results?
Results are available in less than 24 hours from receipt of the tests at Broad's loading dock. Taking collection and shipping time into account, most results are available at or under a 24-hour turnaround time. 

How will I receive my results? 
Negative and inconclusive results are available through a CareEvolve portal. If you test positive, you will be contacted by RWU Heath Services staff during business hours to go over next steps. Anyone receiving a positive result is advised to contact their primary care physician.

How do I log into CareEvolve? 
After your first test, expect an email from CareEvolve@lknotification.com. This email will contain a confirmation code and a link to the CareEvolve portal

You will need to confirm your name, birthdate, and RWU's zip code (02809). You will then fill out your profile, entering demographic information. Once you are logged in, click your test date to view your results. For a detailed presentation on this process, click here

Is any special hardware or software required to access CareEvolve?
No, you only need a web browser. 

What does it mean if I have a positive test result?
If you have a positive test result, it is very likely that you have COVID-19. RWU staff will reach out to you to initiate quarantine and isolation procedures to avoid spreading the virus to others. There is a very small chance that this test can give a positive result that is wrong (a false positive result). Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine how best to care for you based on the test results, medical history, and your symptoms.

What does it mean if I have a negative test result?
A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. For COVID-19, a negative test result for a sample collected while a person has symptoms usually means that COVID-19 did not cause your recent illness. However, it is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect (false negative) in some people with COVID-19. This means that you could possibly still have COVID-19 even though the test is negative. If this is the case, your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with your symptoms, possible exposures, and geographical location of places you have recently traveled in deciding how to care for you. It is important that you work with your healthcare provider to help you understand the next steps you should take. 

What does it mean if I have an unsatisfactory/Tests Not Processed (TNP) or invalid test result?
This result indicates an error in collection or an insufficient sample. Up to 5% of tests may result in unsatisfactory/TNP samples under normal conditions. As of 8/12/20, 2.8 percent of all of the Broad Institutes tests are coming back as unsatisfactory/TNP. 

Common unsatisfactory/TNP results include, but are not limited to:

Unsatisfactory_11: Solids are present in sample or viscosity of sample is too high to process. To prevent this, blow your nose thoroughly before collecting the sample. 

Unsatisfactory_12: The sample is not sufficient to process because something is wrong with the swab. Most commonly, this is because the swab is put in the tube upside-down. The correct placement of the swab is with the soft tip pointing down toward the liquid at the bottom of the tube. 

Invalid: A test that seemed fine and went through the testing process, but did not indicate the presence human material, which should be present on all swabs. 

What should I do if my sample comes back unsatisfactory/TNP or invalid? 
Please return to the testing site to redo your sample collection. 

How often is RWU's Data Hub Updated?

The RWU COVID Testing Data dashboard provides up-to-date results from our Broad Institute testing partnership. The information is updated within a few hours of receiving the most recent day’s testing results (which is shown at the bottom of the dashboard). The timing of when the testing dashboard is updated varies based on two factors – whether we conducted testing the previous day (for the past few weeks we have not conducted testing on Saturdays and Sundays), and the turnaround time for receiving test results ranging between 18 hours to 24 hours. Our lab partner, the Broad Institute, provides diagnostic services to universities and colleges around the region and their total number of completed tests has just passed 1 million.

Data Collection

Does the Broad Institute collect location data for contact tracing?
No, the Broad Institute does not collect location data. Contact tracing is self-reported. 

What demographic data am I required to provide? 
Name, date of birth, address, email, phone, gender, race, and ethnicity. 


Who do I contact if I need technical support for CareEvolve? 
Email: crsp-careevolve@broadinstitute.org

Monday-Friday Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. 
Saturday – Sunday Hours: 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

More in this section: Testing | Testing Q&A | Data HubContact Tracing | Quarantine and Isolation Procedures

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