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Viral testing for graduate and professional students in fall 2020

July 28, 2020

Dear Graduate and Professional Students:

As we look forward to the start of the fall semester, I am writing to update you about Yale’s COVID-19 testing requirements for graduate and professional students. Given that the status of the COVID-19 pandemic is constantly changing, we are monitoring developments on a daily basis. The testing program described here is based on information about the spread of COVID-19, emerging public health and scientific findings, and guidance from government officials. Testing includes both pre-arrival and at-arrival testing, as well as ongoing screening of asymptomatic individuals during the semester.

The frequency of required testing in this program reflects an analysis of testing protocols that would be most likely to limit the rapid spread of the infection. The program uses an observed, self-administered swab in the front of the nostrils to collect a specimen, which is sent for viral (PCR) testing, the current preferred method for detecting viral infection. The COVID-19 testing program described below is one of many important ways that we must work together to prevent a community outbreak.

Viral (PCR) Screening Program for Graduate and Professional Students

  • Prior to Arrival to Campus (New Haven)

    • The University’s pre-arrival testing requirements, which follow, apply to all graduate and professional students. Students who are traveling to the University from out-of-state may be subject to additional State of Connecticut requirements. These may impact pre-arrival testing and may also require students to quarantine upon arrival in Connecticut. Out-of-state students are strongly encouraged to consult for up-to-date information about these Connecticut restrictions. 

    • All students living in high-density dormitory housing (Helen Hadley Hall and Harkness Hall) are required to have a viral (PCR) test no more than 14 days before arriving on campus. Students will receive a follow-up email with a full description of the testing program and instructions on how to obtain pre-arrival testing.

    • All students who do not plan to live in Helen Hadley Hall or Harkness Hall are strongly encouraged to have a viral (PCR) test no more than 14 days before arriving on campus.

    • The University will reimburse the cost of the pre-arrival viral (PCR) test up to $120.

    • If the pre-arrival test is positive, the student should seek medical advice and isolate in their “home” location for at least 10 days and at least 24 hours following resolution of a fever, if present. Students with a positive test should not travel to New Haven but should begin their studies remotely.

  • Upon Arrival to Campus (New Haven)

    • All students arriving on campus or in New Haven must have a viral (PCR) test. Students will receive an email from their academic programs with a timeline and instructions on how to schedule their tests.

    • Arriving students must quarantine in their residences until a negative test result is received (~24-36 hours).

    • If arriving from one of the states covered by the CT Travel Restrictions (see above), students must be prepared for a 14-day quarantine in their residences or dormitory rooms should state policy require this.

    • All students already on campus are required to have a viral (PCR) test through the University testing program prior to the start of the fall semester. Those who were tested before July 13, 2020 in accordance with the University research reopening must have a repeat test no more than 14 days before the start of the fall semester.

  • Ongoing Screening

    • Students in high-density dormitory housing (Helen Hadley Hall and Harkness Hall) are required to be tested twice per week. These students will receive an email in August with a full description of the testing program and instructions on how to schedule testing. 

    • Students who do not live in high-density dormitory housing are not required to be retested, but may obtain additional testing on a voluntary basis through the University testing program, up to one time per week, especially if they have concerns about exposure. Students who have questions about the advisability and frequency of additional asymptomatic testing may call the COVID Campus Resource Line, which is staffed by health care professionals, at 203-432-6604.

Students who test positive through the University testing program will be referred for contact tracing and will be required to isolate in their residences until released by Yale Health.  Medical monitoring and advice will be provided by Yale Health during isolation.

This testing program is intended to detect infection in asymptomatic individuals and does not replace Yale’s testing and care protocols for individuals who have symptoms of COVID-19. The University will continue to provide testing and care for symptomatic individuals through Yale Health. Additionally, while the required testing in the screening program is designed to protect the community from an outbreak, voluntary testing will also be available to asymptomatic individuals who have concerns that they may have been exposed to the virus.

Compliance with testing, contact tracing, isolation and quarantine is a component of the Community Compact, which reflects our strong and shared commitment to promote the health and safety of all community members. All members of our University community must also abide by other public health and safety measures designed to reduce the risk of COVID-19 viral transmission on our campus and in the surrounding New Haven community. These include wearing a face covering, social distancing and regular hand washing. Testing is not a substitute for these behavioral measures in containing the spread of the virus.

If you have questions about any of these requirements, you may call 203-432-6604 or visit

I would like to thank you in advance for your partnership in helping to protect our community and look forward to welcoming you to campus.

With best regards,

Stephanie Spangler

Stephanie S. Spangler, M.D.
Vice Provost for Health Affairs and Academic Integrity
Clinical Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences
University COVID-19 Coordinator