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Testing & Contact Tracing

Find out what you need to know about COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Summer 2021 Entry Testing

Any student taking in-person classes in the Summer 2021 term (either/both sessions) who has not been face-to-face for the Spring term will need to complete entry testing using a rapid antigen test or PCR test. Read more.

Testing Details

Chatham offers symptomatic, close contact, athletic team, entry testing and sample group COVID-19 testing for students through Student Health Services.

Student Health Services uses Curative PCR tests for students who:

  • are showing symptoms of COVID-19
  • have been exposed to someone positive for COVID-19 

This test is painless, self-administered orally or nasally, and is shown to have a 90% clinical sensitivity rate and 100% specificity rate. The turnaround for results is about 48 hours, possibly longer, as we see a rise in cases nationally and an increase demand for testing.

For sample testing of community groups, which identifies asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals and serves as another important health and safety protocol in our efforts to manage COVID-19 on campus, we will be using Quidel Antigen Testing and Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen test cards.  These are rapid tests with results available in 15 minutes.

Students who are fully vaccinated, at least 2 weeks from second dose (if Moderna or Pfizer), will not be required to participate in sample testing. Asymptomatic students who are selected for sample testing and who test positive with the antigen test will take a PCR test. They will be required to shelter in place as they await their test results.

We are also fortunate that Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has several convenient, local sites where students can be tested, with over 20 testing sites within a 5-mile radius of Chatham’s Shadyside Campus—including a free, drive-up site in McKeesport. A map of local testing locations is available on the County’s website. In addition, Chatham will provide safe and secure transportation to a testing site for students who need it.

Chatham's testing protocol may change as we continue to review all testing options and guidance including the feasibility of using different testing formats as they become more readily available over the coming months.  

On-Campus Testing

If you have cold or flu-like symptoms, have been identified as a close contact of a positive COVID case, or are part of a group that is being tested, below are the steps you should follow to schedule and receive testing:  

  • Make an appointment with Student Health Services by using our On-Campus Testing Sign-Up Form or calling 412-365-1714. Testing is available Monday thru Friday, 8:30 am to Noon.  Appointments must be scheduled in advance. 
  • When it’s time for your appointment, go to the two tents set up outside of Student Health Services at the back of Woodland Hall for check-in.  Please bring your student ID. Proper masking protocols must be followed. 

Off-Campus Testing

If you are tested off-campus, submit your test results on our Off-Campus Testing Form. Please be assured that all submissions will be kept strictly confidential and will only be shared with those who specifically have a role in addressing needs.

Contact Tracing

According to the CDC, contact tracing is a core disease control measure employed by local and state health department personnel as a key strategy for preventing further spread of COVID-19.

Chatham is partnering with the Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) to contact trace students as our own jurisdiction. Contact tracing will begin when a person receives a positive test result. The individual who has tested positive will identify people they have come in close contact (within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes) within 48 hours prior to becoming symptomatic. Chatham and ACHD may both conduct contract tracing interviews. 

Contacts who are identified will be contacted by Chatham and/or ACHD and required to quarantine, monitor symptoms and receive testing.

Vaccinated persons are not required to quarantine if they 1) have been fully vaccinated (two weeks following receipt of final dose), 2) are within three months of the last dose, and 3) have remained asymptomatic since the current COVID-19 exposure. If any of those three conditions are not met, they must quarantine even if vaccinated. This is in line with guidance from the CDC.

Chatham has trained a team of staff members to serve as contact tracers in consultation with ACHD through their Sara Alert program. These contact tracers will interview positive cases, notify close contacts, and monitor symptoms using the daily screening in Sara Alert.

Please visit our What to Do If... web page for instructions on what to do if sick or identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. 

Cougars Care: Keeping Others Safe

If you've been exposed to COVID-19 and tested negative, quarantining may seem like an unnecessary hassle. Here's why it is, in fact, very important:  


Spring 2021 Entry Testing

For Spring 2021, Chatham required Entry Testing before the start of the spring term for students living in any on-campus housing (including apartments), and for students living off-campus who are attending an in-person class or participating in on-campus activities.

Students had to receive a negative COVID test (completed off-campus or on-campus) within five days prior to arrival to on-campus housing or before their first in-person class or activity. 


FAQ: Contact Tracing

Chatham follows ACHD and CDC guidance on contact tracing and traces back two days (48 hours) before symptoms start or a positive test.
Close contact is defined as anyone who has been within 6 feet of someone for more than 15 minutes within 48 hours of the person being symptomatic.
Not necessarily. Chatham is using physical distancing in classroom spaces to help students and faculty remain 6 feet apart. 
Yes. Anyone who is tested will be instructed to begin quarantine. Contact tracing will begin if the test is positive.  

You should follow our guidance and alert the appropriate contact at Chatham. You will be required to be tested and quarantine at home for 10 days. 

If you have been identified as a close contact, you will be directed by ACHD to receive a test. You will also quarantine for 10 days. Visit our What To Do If...page for more instructions and details. 

No. Per the Allegheny County Health Department, individuals who have tested positive through PCR testing within the past three months do not need to quarantine, even if identified as a close contact of a positive case. 

FAQ: Testing

If one member of a sports team tests positive for COVID-19, normal protocols and process for a positive case are followed, and team activities can continue for members not identified as close contacts. Anytime there are two or more unrelated positive cases within a sports team (or 20% of the roster), all team activities are suspended for a period of time, all team members will be directed to shelter-in-place for 72 hours, and all team members will be tested.
COVID-19 testing through Student Health Services is only open to students at this time, unless the employee is selected for sample testing. Employees should reference the instructions here, and follow the guidance and direction of their medical provider for testing and their medical needs.

Student tests completed in Health Services will be free.  Student Health Services may still refer students for off- campus testing where they would use their health insurance.    

For employees on Chatham’s UPMC Health Plan and students on the UPMC Student Health Plan, UPMC covers 100% of the testing cost for anyone with symptoms and/or risk of exposure with a prescription. Learn more.

If not on Chatham’s plan, we encourage you to call your insurance provider to understand whether testing is covered.

Chatham currently offers both antigen and PCR testing. If any close contacts test negative from the antigen test, they will need to have a PCR test performed. PCR testing looks for pieces of the virus that causes COVID-19 and is more sensitive than antigen testing.