Testing and Contact Tracing


This page is being updated during the week of August 10.  This disclaimer will be removed when this update is complete.


Information on this page revolves around GVSU's approach to items from the "4T-IQ" list:  Tracking, Technology, Testing, Tracing, Isolation and Quarantine.  Included is policy language, related videos, and frequently asked questions.  

This page is maintained by GVSU's Virus Action Team (VAT).  Vice President for Finance and Administration Greg Sanial directs the team that includes project manager Lisa Haynes; faculty liaisons: professor of biomedical sciences Doug Graham, associate professor of physics Ben Holder, and program director and associate professor of occupational safety and health Dave Huizen; tracking and tracing leads: Jean Nagelkerk and Tina Barnikow; academic affairs lead: Ed Aboufadel; student affairs and experience leads: Lynn (Chick) Blue, Nykia Gaines and Kate Harmon. Three members will devote all their energies to this team, while the remaining members will dedicate significant time working daily with the team. The VAT monitors the health and safety in the Grand Valley community as well as the surrounding region, and will report to the Senior Leadership Team.

Spectrum Health Infectious disease specialist Habiba Hassouna, M.D. serves as a consultant.

Spectrum Health has established a 24/7 COVID hotline for GVSU.  Details after August 17.

Any health monitoring questions or concerns should be sent to: virusactionteam@gvsu.edu.

Tracking and Technology

For our tracking efforts, the Virus Action Team vigorously monitors data on the current spread of COVID-19, and risks of further spread at the national, state, regional, and campus levels.

Collecting data at the Campus Level

  • All students, faculty and staff are required to complete the daily COVID-19 risk self-assessment. This is required seven days a week whether you are coming to campus or not to more completely track the virus, and your compliance will be monitored. The self-assessment should be completed each day before noon.
    • Spectrum Health staff will follow-up on self-assessment flags, including testing for individuals with symptoms or exposure.  Spectrum Health will provide check-ins following positive tests.
  • We will conduct ongoing testing of selected campus populations, as well as randomized testing (so-called surveillance testing).
  • We will track the number of individuals in the GV community who are in quarantine or isolation (on- or off-campus).
  • A GV data dashboard will be available soon.

Data at the National, State, or Regional Level

Recognizing the Symptoms of COVID-19

Tracking and Technology FAQ

Yes.  According to Emergency Order 2020-161, "All businesses or operations that require their employees to leave the homes or residences for work must, at a minimum ...  conduct a daily entry self-screening protocol for all employees or contractors entering the workplace, including, at a minimum, a questionnaire covering symptoms and suspected or confirmed exposure to people with possible COVID-19."


As described by the CDC, "Viral tests check samples from your respiratory system, such as a swab from the inside of your nose, to see if you are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19."

Availability and Costs of Testing

  • Testing off campus:  Testing can be arranged through your health care provider or you can consult the State of Michigan testing site finder.  That page includes these filters:  “no cost”; "people without symptoms (asymptomatic)"; "no doctor’s order needed"; and "tests uninsured individuals".
  • Testing on campus:  Currently, students who have symptoms or who have been exposed to someone who tests positive can be tested at two university sites:
  • Plans for expanded testing on campus:  Details on a new protocol for expanded on-campus testing will be announced prior to move-in August 23.  We will be able to facilitate thousands of tests with quicker turnarounds to help track the virus. Costs for testing facilitated through Spectrum Health as part of the university’s self-assessment process will be billed first to insurance with any balance billed to the university. Costs for randomized testing will be covered by the university. Updates forthcoming.

GVSU Testing Plans

  • Testing in August, prior to coming to campus:  The university is encouraging everyone to be tested for COVID-19 before returning to campus. While these test results will be a snapshot in time, any positive results will be caught before arriving on campus.
  • Ongoing testing:  We will be conducting regular testing on high-risk groups such as athletes, resident assistants and critical personnel.
  • Randomized testing:  Randomized testing of 1,500 people on campus will begin two weeks after the start of classes and continue throughout the semester. Students, faculty and staff will be selected at random to be tested. This will give us a sense of the presence of the virus within our community and the data will be used to identify any “hot spots” and to make decisions regarding campus operations.

An Introduction to COVID-19 Testing

Testing FAQ

Everyone in the GVSU community is required to complete the daily COVID-19 Risk Self-Assessment. Testing will be required when the assessment reflects symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure to COVID-19.  In addition, groups have been identified that are of higher risk to be exposed to the virus and/or most likely to spread it.  Those groups are being tested as needed.  Finally, beginning fall semester, GVSU will implement random testing of asymptomatic GVSU community members (so-called “surveillance testing”) as part of our monitoring efforts and to reduce the possibility of “super spreader events”.

A test provides information of infection for an individual at a specific point in time, and any test of a student would occur days before arrival on campus.  Negative, but not current, results may lead to a false sense of security and reduce compliance with our risk mitigation measures:  daily self-assessment, social distancing, required face coverings, hand washing, enhanced cleaning and disinfection, limits on the size of gatherings, and on-going education of community expectations.

Additionally, the CDC has not endorsed universal testing at colleges. They cite a lack of research as to whether “entry testing … provides any additional reduction in person-to-person transmission of the virus beyond what would be expected with implementation of other infection preventive measures.”

It depends on the situation:

  • For those with a GVSU-sponsored medical plan, those plans are required to cover testing and related fees (processing/reading the tests) at 100%, through December 31, per the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.  If a COVID-19 test of any kind is ordered by a medical provider that is medically necessary, your member cost share (co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles) for this test will be waived.

    • The test must be ordered by a medical provider for your health plan to cover the costs of the test.

    • Your plan will cover the cost of the test as described above, whether the provider is in or out of network.

    • If you are experiencing symptoms, first speak to your health care provider to help you understand if you need testing and how to receive it.

    • Medically necessary is determined and appropriately coded by your ordering provider.

    • Medically necessary does not include tests as a condition of employment or returning to work.

  • When a GVSU employee or student has a does not pass the GVSU self-assessment due to symptoms and/or exposure, they will be directed to the Spectrum Health for further screening.  This meets the criteria set by the insurance companies to determine clinically necessary testing. Tests conducted following the Spectrum Health screening will be billed to insurance, including for those who have been exposed but have no symptoms. For those who have out-of-pocket costs or do not have insurance,GVSU will be billed for those costs.

  • For those selected through our selected testing or random testing programs, GVSU will pay for those tests.

  • Individuals seeking "on demand" testing will need to pay out-of-pocket or find a no-cost site.

Students who are uninsured are encouraged to discuss their situation with the billing office at the medical practice, which may have recommendations for coverage. One option might be the GVSU student plan through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan.

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is the process of quickly identifying, assessing, and managing people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent additional transmission.  The government of the State of Michigan has published information about contact tracing in the State.

All positive tests are reported to county health departments. Grand Valley has a close working relationship with Ottawa and Kent county health departments and will work with them to support their tracking and tracing efforts within our community. Spectrum Health will assist in providing follow-up with all students who are in quarantine (been exposed to someone positive) or in isolation following a positive test. Nearly 20 of our students will be hired to work as contact tracers with the county health departments through the GVSU Student Employment SE+ program.

What is Contact Tracing?

Tracing FAQ

Each situation would be assessed by the university in partnership with the local health department, based on current health guidelines.

Isolation and Quarantine

Isolation is required of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19.  Quarantine is required of individuals who have been exposed to others who have tested positive.

All students who need to quarantine or isolate will be supported.  We do have plans to care for students who are quarantined or in isolation, and they will receive more detailed information from Housing and Residence Life and the Dean of Students Office by August 17.

Faculty and staff who need to be quarantined or isolated should work with their appointing officer to determine the best course of action, as each case will need individual attention.

The Difference Between Quarantine and Isolation

Isolation and Quarantine FAQ

Yes.  A set of rooms have been reserved for this purpose by our Housing office, as well as plans to provide food and other support.

President Mantella wrote in August, "If a student in a face-to-face course must isolate or quarantine, instructors will work with the student to make appropriate accommodations."

In addition, the following has been communicated to faculty:

Flexibility in attendance policies will be necessary for accommodating students who may have been exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 (and will need to quarantine) or who themselves have tested positive (and will need to isolate).

This summer, UAS and the Provost approved this temporary policy for Fall 2020:

1. Faculty are prohibited from having an attendance policy that directly affects grades.

2. Notes from health care providers are not necessary for “excused” absences.

The University has a published Class Attendance Policy in the GVSU Catalog that details what is expected of both students and faculty. COVID-19 related absences should be “excused”, according to the current policy. Students should also have the ability to quarantine at any point in the semester if they are concerned about COVID-19. Class participation may still be part of a student’s grade as engagement can be accomplished in multiple ways which do not require students to be “in-seat” during the course.

The individual affected will report a positive test, or a recent exposure, through the daily self-assessment.  Instructors do not need to send in a CARE report.  Employees do not need to contact Human Resources.