August 8, 2020

Dear Students,

Next week, the COVID-19 Medical Response Office will initiate our campus surveillance testing strategy for COVID-19 starting Wednesday, Aug. 12. This involves randomly testing a percentage of the incoming student population—including undergraduate and graduate students who live on and off campus—who are not experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19. Together with our phased arrival approach, sheltering-in-place strategy and daily symptom screens, we will be able to closely monitor the prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus and help ensure a safer start to the fall term.

But we cannot do this without you. We are partners in this effort to keep our campus healthy. Here’s how you can do your part.  

If you are selected for random testing, you will receive an email at your Pitt email address with instructions on the date and time of your test, or scheduling information if you live off campus. This email will be sent 24-48 hours in advance, so be sure to regularly monitor your Pitt inboxes.  

If you have not experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 on or before the date and time of your test, proceed to the covered outdoor testing site located just outside Wesley W. Posvar Hall (find it on Google Maps) and stand in a physically distanced line. Don’t forget to bring a valid Pitt ID and wear a face covering at all times.

At the registration desk at the front of the line, you will provide your Pitt ID and collect a testing kit. A staff member will scan the barcode on your testing kit before giving it to you.

Once you arrive at the testing station, you will follow nine easy steps to self-collect your sample using the kit provided, drop it off and be on your way. The entire process should take no more than 30 minutes, and on-site testing staff will provide guidance and observe you to ensure you collect the sample the right way. They will also be able to provide any assistance you may need.

Self-Sampling in 9 Easy Steps

  1. Sanitize your hands.
  2. Open your test kit. Place the barcode labels on the sample tube and bag.
  3. Insert the nasal swab in one nostril as directed by staff until you feel mild resistance—it should not hurt!
  4. Rotate the swab and hold it in place for 10 seconds. Repeat in the other nostril with the same swab.
  5. Snap off the end of the swab handle as directed by the testing staff helping you, and insert the swab, tip first, into the sample tube.
  6. Screw the cap on tightly, place the tube in the bag and seal the bag as directed by the testing staff. Put the extra labels in the outside bag pocket.
  7. Place the bag on the table.
  8. Sanitize your hands once again.
  9. Wait for the testing staff to receive your sample and prompt you to leave.

We’ve made every effort to ensure that this process is as simple and convenient for you as possible. The results of your test will be communicated back to you by Student Health Service in two to three days. If you test positive, Student Health Service will contact you directly and provide further guidance on what you should do.

Find additional information about testing and outcomes including answers to frequently asked questions at If you have further questions about surveillance testing, reach out to us at, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

As always, remember to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing and wash your hands frequently.

Thank you, again, for doing your part.



COVID-19 Medical Response Office, University of Pittsburgh


Saturday, August 8, 2020