FAQs: Asymptomatic Surveillance Testing

Mason will randomly select members of the community to request that they participate in testing to help discover and track possible cases of COVID-19 spreading via carriers who display no symptoms.

If you participate in surveillance testing, there is an option in the Mason COVID Health Check to indicate that the test was taken for surveillance purposes, meaning you will not get a yellow response limiting your access to campus. You should still get a green response allowing you to come to campus. 

If you are are selected for a surveillance test and are unvaccinated or in a high-contact role (even if vaccinated), you must be tested. This is not optional.

How is the test is administered?

Mason is using a saliva test. Samples will be analyzed at SciTech at the College of Science’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine CAP/CLIA certified laboratories.

Watch a video on the saliva test.

When will I receive my results?

Turnaround time for results should be an average of two business days or less.

Who is included in the selection process?

All students in face-to-face classes, residential students, and those who answer “yes” in the Mason COVID Health Check when asked if they are returning to campus.

Selections are made based on a risk stratification and randomized selection process developed by faculty at the Volgenau School of Engineering and the College of Health and Human Services

How will I know if I'm selected?

You'll receive an email from the Safety, Emergency, & Enterprise Risk Management and Student Health Services team that is managing the on-site sampling.

Where is the sampling conducted?

Testing sites on our Virginia campuses include:  

  • Fairfax Campus: Fenwick Library A Wing (former MIX space).
  • Mason Square in Arlington: Hazel Hall, Rooms B1-13. 
  • SciTech Campus: Colgan Hall, Room 413.

Will I need to pay for the test?

No, the test is free.

Are students exempt from testing if they have been vaccinated?

No, they are not exempt. However, if you are fully vaccinated, you will be selected for testing much less frequently.

Because the medical/scientific data on how effective the vaccine is in preventing spread is still being collected, we are continuing to require randomized testing on vaccinated students.

There is still risk of re-infection, including with a variant, after vaccination.

I received a yellow response to my Mason COVID Health check, or I have symptoms of COVID. Should I still schedule a test?

No. Follow the instructions in the email response you received. If you have symptoms, call Student Health Services at 703-993-2831, or your primary care provider, for an evaluation.  

I received a COVID-19 test recently. Should I still schedule a test?

If you had a test within the past 14 days because you are symptomatic or a close contact of a someone who was positive and your results are pending, don't come to campus. Follow instructions from your health care provider. 

If you had a test within the past 14 days that was negative, you are encouraged to participate, as your results may have changed since you were previously tested, even if it was only a short time ago. 

If you had a non-diagnostic test (for surveillance purposes) within the past 14 days and have not yet received results but have been selected again for surveillance testing at Mason, you may opt out of the test or you may opt in to get another test.

However, if you are a residential student, you should contact Housing and Residence Life. The randomized process for selecting individuals for surveillance testing means you may be selected more than once, including in back-to-back weeks.

I had a positive COVID-19 test within the last 3 months, and have already been cleared by my provider. Should I still schedule a test?

No, you should not schedule a test if you've tested positive for COVID-19 within the last 3 months. Please ensure you have been cleared by your health care provider before coming back to campus.

Residential students who have a documented positive COVID-19 test result in the last 3 months should request a medical exemption. Documentation will be required.

Call Student Health Services at 703-993-2831 if you have any questions. 

Could I be asked to participate in surveillance testing more than once?

Yes. Because the sampling is randomized, you may be selected more than once over the semester. 

I still have questions or need to reschedule my appointment. Who can I contact?