COVID-19 testing options for the remainder of the fall semester

Students and colleagues,

As we approach the end of the fall semester, we want to update you on our COVID-19 testing plans through the end of this year and into next semester.

At this point, our positivity rates and numbers of new cases per day are lower than they have been at previous points during the semester.

Still, we are watching these rates closely as we track other areas around the country and the region that are seeing increases in the number of cases and hospitalizations related to the virus. Our situation throughout this semester is thanks in large part to the efforts of our KU community and the broader Lawrence and Douglas County community to curb the spread of the virus.

Especially given these increased cases around the country and region, this is not a time to let up on our mitigation efforts, particularly with respect to mask-wearing and social distancing, which have served us well so far.

Testing and travel

For many, the need and desire to travel – both internationally and within the U.S. – increases as the pandemic continues and restrictions are imposed. Still, we know that travel increases your chance of getting and spreading the virus, and staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. 

Recognizing that some members of our community must travel at the end of the semester, we will provide additional testing opportunities for the following members of our campus community:

1. Students, faculty, and staff whose travel plans require a negative test, either mandated by an airline or by their final destination. 

2. Students, faculty, and staff who are returning to a household with a person who is at high risk for severe complications of COVID-19, as identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Members of the KU community who meet one of these two criteria will have the opportunity to obtain a saliva test at no cost. The tests may be obtained by signing up for an appointment online. Testing will be available from Nov. 16-22 at KU Parking Lot 91, which is north of the Spencer Museum of Art and south of the football practice fields, as our testing supplies allow.  Additional questions about these testing opportunities may be emailed to

These tests are intended for people who are not displaying symptoms of COVID-19. If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call KU’s COVID-19 call center to set up an appointment to be tested at 785-864-9000. You should also not get tested through this process if you have previously tested positive for the virus within the last 90 days. If this applies to you, you should seek documentation from the provider who administered your test if it is needed for travel.

We will continue to offer testing opportunities for members of our KU community who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 throughout most of the break between semesters. Those seeking tests should call 785-864-9000 for additional information.

Leading up to Nov. 16, we will continue offering randomized prevalence testing opportunities to select groups of the campus community through a lottery system.

It is important to point out that these testing opportunities do not remove the risks of transmission. A negative test result does not mean that you do not currently have COVID-19 or that you won’t contract it as you travel to your eventual destination.

As we have stressed before, a negative test result is only reflective of a single point in time. Students or others who are returning to homes with family members who are at high risk for COVID-19 are recommended to self-quarantine for 14 days before traveling, even with a negative test result.

Students and employees who are traveling should also review KU’s current travel restrictions initially announced in August and further detailed at Protect KU under Travel FAQs. Additional guidelines are available from the CDC.

Next spring

As we did in the fall, we plan to mandate testing for members of our community who plan to be on campus for the spring semester.

Students living in KU Student Housing facilities can expect to be sent home with a saliva test kit that they will be required to complete and return in late January before they move back to campus. Student Housing will provide more details to on-campus residents.

Additional details on how the rest of our community will obtain entry testing will be sent at a later date.

As we have stressed all along, it will be crucial that we keep up our efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask. Maintain social distancing. And to protect yourself and ease demands on healthcare providers, please get a flu shot.

Thanks again to all of you who have helped us to be able to open and operate the university this semester. Your efforts are critical to our ability to achieve our university’s mission. 

Douglas A. Girod
University of Kansas