Information Center

Lehigh University COVID-19 Testing Types

Last Updated: Feb. 24, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Lehigh currently utilizes four modes of testing:

1) Diagnostic testing for symptomatic students seen at the Health and Wellness Center, also called “point of care testing” or rapid testing. Specimen collection is done at the Health and Wellness Center for students presenting with COVID-19 related symptoms. This PCR test is processed at the Health and Wellness Center and has a one-hour turnaround time. Due to limitations on the availability of test kits, we prioritize these tests for symptomatic students.

Diagnostic testing for symptomatic students is billed to student insurance. The cost of this testing is not covered by the university. Students are required and responsible for uploading their health insurance information to the HWC on the HWC patient portal at the start of the year.  Please check to ensure this requirement has been completed. Students/primary cardholders will be billed if insurance information is unavailable. 

2) Saliva Specimen collection for asymptomatic close contacts. These specimens are collected at a SEPARATE location in Trembley using Vault Health test kits. Turnaround times are usually between 24-48 hours, though this may be longer. Close contacts who are tested, even if they test negative, per Lehigh University protocol must complete the full 14 days of quarantine. They may not "test out" of quarantine. The cost of close contact testing is covered by the university. 

3) Surveillance testing for asymptomatic students through Vault Health. These saliva specimens are collected in Zoellner. Students should NOT use this surveillance testing as a way to obtain a test if they are having symptoms or believe they have been a close contact of a positive case. Students are emailed if required to participate in surveillance testing. The cost of required surveillance testing (including pre-arrival and arrival testing) is covered by the university. 

4) Outside testing. Students may be referred by the Health and Wellness Center or reach out on their own to the 24/7 Lehigh Valley Health Network Nurse Information Line that is working collaboratively with the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center for assessment of symptoms and referral for testing at three different LVHN locations off-campus.

All students, on and off-campus, fully remote or not, have access to each of these forms of testing.

For other testing options, students can reference the compilation of testing resources compiled by the Health and Wellness Center

Why are some forms of testing utilized over others depending on the situation?

Rapid diagnostic tests are utilized primarily for students experiencing symptoms. It is important for symptomatic students and Health and Wellness Center staff to know test results quickly so they can make treatment recommendations appropriately and to isolate the student, if necessary, so the potential for spread of the virus to others can be reduced.

Asymptomatic close contacts of students are placed in quarantine for a 14-day period due to the two-to-14-day incubation period of the virus, and as such should have significantly limited close contact with others during this period. A negative test does not eliminate the 14-day quarantine period. The same decision principles around testing apply for on-campus as for off-campus students.