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Message about COVID-19 testing

July 1, 2020

Dear students, 

I am writing today to share important information about COVID-19 testing requirements you must fulfill prior to the Aug. 24 start of classes. These requirements are designed to curb the introduction of the coronavirus to campus and slow its spread.

Our testing program centers on early identification and isolation of individuals who are asymptomatic — who have no symptoms and who may be unaware they have the virus — to reduce the chance they will expose others on campus to the virus. 

The University will require proof of a negative test performed within the five days prior to arrival on campus before the start of classes Aug. 24 for these student groups:

  • All undergraduate students, including commuter students and those living in landlord or other non-UD housing.
  • Graduate and law students who live in UD housing.
  • Any graduate or law student (international or domestic) who has recently traveled abroad.

The required test is a nasopharyngeal PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19), the gold standard test for active infection.  

If your test is positive, you may not come to campus and will start the semester online while you are infectious, whether or not you have symptoms.

There may be limited situations in which testing at home prior to arrival on campus is not possible; the University will offer testing by appointment only in conjunction with move-in or check-in. University students who are tested upon arrival will be required to self-isolate in their residence until test results are received, which is likely to be several days. If you test positive upon arrival, you will be required to leave campus promptly to start the semester at home online; limited on-campus isolation may be available for students who live more than 400 miles away. 

Any student who tests positive prior to Aug. 24 must stay home or go home while they are infectious whether or not they have symptoms. 

If you become ill with symptoms of COVID-19 or are exposed to someone with COVID-19 shortly before you plan to arrive, you should delay travel, contact your health care provider for evaluation, and must not come to campus until you have completed isolation or quarantine and are no longer infectious. It is best that you are at home where you can receive care from your health providers and families.

We fully understand that this is a tight timeline and may be challenging for you, depending on access to the required testing in your area. It's important you plan ahead.

But this program is an essential measure we must take to try to curtail the spread of the virus on campus. If we do not, there is a risk that the virus will spread widely in the UD community even as the semester begins.

If the coronavirus spreads, it endangers the health of vulnerable students, faculty and staff. And if a significant outbreak occurs, the University might again be required by public health authorities to shift entirely to online learning. 

The testing program is grounded in the best available scientific and medical knowledge about how the coronavirus spreads and the most effective ways to help slow it. The University has been guided by the UD COVID-19 Medical Advisory Panel, a group of local physicians and health experts with expertise in managing infectious diseases and COVID-19.

It's crucially important you plan well in advance to ensure you will be able to have this test performed and receive results in the five days prior to your arrival on campus. To help you make plans, please download the UD COVID-19 Testing Program Fact Sheet for Students and Scheduling a COVID-19 Test Checklist for Students and Parents

For questions not answered here, email

Be well and stay safe, 
Mary Buchwalder, M.D.
Director, University Student Health Center