University of Texas at Austin announces plans for COVID-19 testing as students return to campus for fall semester

AUSTIN, Texas – The University of Texas at Austin has announced its plan to test up to 5,000 members of the UT community each week for COVID-19 using a strategic, scientific-based approach.

On Tuesday, the interim president along with university health officials outlined its strategic testing plan in an open letter to the UT community.

“Robust and rigorous testing will be needed to monitor and limit the presence of COVID-19 on our campus and keep our community members as safe as possible as we continue to navigate the pandemic,” Officials for the university said.

The University of Texas at Austin is preparing for thousands of students to return to campus beginning Aug. 24.

In collaboration with epidemiologists, infectious disease experts and other health care professionals, the university has designed a strategic approach to COVID-19 testing.

Here are key points from UT Austin’s COVID-19 testing plan:

Testing for individuals who are ill

UT students, faculty or staff members exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms will be able to schedule a test with University Health Services, which has the capacity to rapidly test hundreds of individuals each day with a 15-minute turnaround time for results using its in-house lab.

Clinical testing done at University Health Services and UT Health Austin will be billed to the individual’s insurance plan.

According to the letter, most insurance plans, including the UT Select employee insurance plan and the Academic Blue student health insurance plan, fully cover the cost of testing for symptomatic individuals.

Additionally, the university plans to subsidize the costs for the tests for uninsured students tested at University Health Services to eliminate out-of-pocket expenses.

The letter also revealed that UT Health Austin will explore the use of federal programs to help cover the cost for employees who are uninsured.

Contact tracing

Through an agreement between Dell Medical School and Austin Public Health, the University of Texas at Austin will continue to conduct contact tracing for its community members who test positive for COVID-19.

The university has established a team of contact tracers to help identify and quickly test close contacts.

Proactive community testing

Officials for the university say proactive community testing is a critical aspect of its strategy.

According to the letter, proactive community testing is done at no cost to individuals being tested.

The university will identify and directly contact individuals and groups to participate in voluntary, proactive testing.

The proactive community testing program is not currently accepting individual requests to participate.

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