COVID-19 Testing Guidance Update

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Dear Members of the Colgate Community,

The last week has show us the extent of COVID-19 present in the community. It comes on top of increased confirmed cases of strep throat and RSV that are also highly prevalent this fall. Thanks to the vaccine mandate, the vast majority of our students and employees are protected from serious illness and, in the event of a breakthrough case, are likely to experience only minor cold and flu-like symptoms. Vaccinated individuals are also less likely to spread disease to others.

Given the need to protect the health and safety of the community and enable Colgate to pursue its educational mission, the University has continued to assess and offer on-campus testing so that Student Health Services staff can focus their efforts on protecting those at highest risk.

This has led us to reaffirm the following protocols, based on CDC recommendations:

If you are vaccinated, do not have any high-risk medical conditions, and have mild symptoms for which you would not otherwise seek medical care, you do not need immediate testing.

Minimize the spread of whatever infection may be present by wearing a mask at all times indoors, except while you are eating or sleeping. You may attend class as long as you are wearing a mask. There is no evidence of spread of disease in the classroom with consistent and proper mask wearing.

Practice physical distancing, access grab-and-go food, skip social events. Get rest; do not go to practice or group meetings until you feel better — as you should whenever you have a cold or the flu. If significant symptoms persist for three to four days without improving, or if your symptoms are increasing to a level where you would normally seek care, contact Student Health Services. If you follow these guidelines, you need not worry that you will be violating the Commitment to Community Health. These efforts will decrease the risk of spreading illness, thereby reducing risk to friends, classmates, roommates, and faculty or staff members.

Testing will be by appointment only. If you are identified as a close contact by the Madison County Department of Health, and if Student Health Services is notified, we will contact you about planning a single PCR test approximately 3–5 days after your last contact with the person who tested positive.

At this time, if you are not having symptoms and are not a close contact, no testing is necessary. We are prioritizing testing for individuals for whom a test is medically warranted. Worried-and-well testing will be offered on a limited basis, according to availability. If you are not contacted by the Department of Health or Student Health Services, but believe you are a close contact or may have been exposed, you may schedule an appointment for a single PCR test — Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — approximately 3–5 days after your last contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. Locations will vary. This timing is based on the incubation period of the virus. Testing before this time will be ineffective. A single test is sufficient and will help to reserve appointment times for those at higher risk. Sign up.

Unvaccinated students who are identified as close contacts will receive instruction from Student Health Services, as they are required to quarantine under current Department of Health guidelines. 

Contact tracing aside, call Student Health Services if:

  • you are having even mild symptoms and are unvaccinated, have a high-risk medical condition, or are immunocompromised
  • you are fully vaccinated and having symptoms and have a roommate who is unvaccinated or at high risk for significant disease
  • you are having fever, significant cough, shortness of breath, or chest pain (you may access the Emergency Room at Community Memorial Hospital after hours)

As University physicians, we know that this pandemic continues to cause stress. Here in Student Health Services, we continue to follow the data and the science as we work to keep this community as safe as possible while demands on resources are running high. Please know that we are constantly evaluating our guidelines. If change is needed, we will not hesitate to adjust in consultation with the Task Force, the EOC, state and federal agencies, and all those working on your behalf. If you have any questions, please email


Dr. Merrill Miller
University Physician and Director of Student Health Services

Dr. Ellen Larson
University Physician