What to Do if You Need a COVID-19 Test

Barbara A. Bichelmeyer Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor
Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020, 9:53 a.m.
All KU Lawrence and Edwards Students,KU Lawrence Faculty Staff and Affiliates

Sent on behalf of Barbara Bichelmeyer, Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor, and Dr. Pavika Saripalli, Chief of Staff of Watkins Health Services.

Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,

There is misinformation circulating about appropriate action if someone develops COVID-19 symptoms. This email is to ensure all members of the KU community have correct and consistent information available to guide their actions should they develop symptoms or learn they need a follow-up test for COVID-19.

We have arranged for expanded testing capability with the University of Kansas Health System (UKHS), which will be working closely with Watkins Health Services to provide additional testing.

Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Testing

Call the KU COVID-19 Call Center, 785-864-9000, or your local health care provider for guidance as soon as possible if you notice the onset of COVID symptoms, or if you believe, or a public health official informs you, that you are a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID-19. For example, you would be considered a close contact if you have been within six feet for 10 minutes or more of a person who tested positive, or are a roommate of someone who is positive.

  • Arrange an appointment for a COVID-19 test at the earliest opportunity. You can do this through the call center or your local health care provider.
  • Quarantine, limiting contact with others, until you test and you receive results, and follow further instructions from health care providers, who will likely advise you to complete a full 14-day quarantine period.
  • Isolate, per instructions from public health officials, if your test is positive for COVID-19.
  • Stay home – do not attend classes, do not go to work – until after your quarantine or isolation period has concluded. (Please remember that should you need to miss work, the federal Family First Protection Act provides paid leave for many COVID-19-related situations. Students, please contact your instructors as soon as possible to seek a course adaptation.)

Edwards Campus faculty, staff and students can take advantage of UKHS COVID-19 testing clinics in the Kansas City metro.

In Lawrence, symptomatic individuals can be tested at either Watkins Health Services or the new drive-through/walk-up clinic operated by UKHS at the Naismith Hall parking lot, 18th Street and Naismith Drive.

We’ve also created an additional testing clinic for individuals considered close contacts who aren’t displaying symptoms and for those individuals asked to take part in KU’s ongoing prevalence testing. This drive-through/walk-up clinic, in Lot 91 near the Spencer Museum of Art and the KU Football Practice Fields, will provide the COVID-19 saliva test. Please make an appointment for this clinic site, either through the call center or through the provided instructions if selected for random prevalence testing. Location information appears below.

UKHS will work closely with Watkins Health Services to ensure that students who test at the drive-through clinic have their results communicated promptly to Watkins staff.

Test Cost and Billing

Symptomatic and close contact individuals should not have to pay for any of the testing resources on campus.

  • Symptomatic COVID-19 tests will be billed to insurance if the client has health insurance. All insurance providers are required to cover these medically necessary tests in full when ordered by a health care provider, such as through the call center.
  • Members of the KU community who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 and who do not have insurance will not be charged to receive this test. The cost will be covered through alternate funding sources. 
  • All asymptomatic COVID-19 saliva tests for KU’s randomized prevalence testing and for testing of close contacts of positive cases will be provided for free to those who meet the criteria to receive these tests.

Patient Records

Watkins will continue to maintain records for individuals seen and tested at Watkins. Symptomatic individuals who have an appointment at the UKHS drive-through testing site will need to create a patient profile with UKHS to have access to their results through the UKHS patient portal. The UKHS clinical team will call all individuals tested through the Naismith site with their results, and student results will be communicated with Watkins Health Services and KU Student Housing staff as appropriate. Positive results will also be communicated to appropriate state and local health officials.

Instructor Reminder

If you learn that a member of your classroom or your department has tested positive and you’ve been following physical distance guidelines, adhering to classroom configuration and wearing masks, you and your students would not be considered a close contact. Please allow public health officials to perform necessary contact tracing. As an instructor, privacy policies and regulations do not allow you to disclose a student’s status to others unless the student has given you permission to do so.

Safety for Everyone

Please maintain appropriate physical distance and wear a mask everywhere you go. Follow basic handwashing and hygiene guidelines. Use hand sanitizer when hand washing isn’t an option. Monitor your symptoms every day and use the CVKey app when entering campus buildings. Stay home and away from others if you aren’t feeling well. The Protect KU website has answers to your questions and information to address your concerns.

Thank you to all who have taken these important safety precautions to heart to help keep yourself and others safe. We know there could be further challenges ahead, but basic precautions are very effective when used consistently. Should you develop symptoms or learn you are a close contact of someone who is positive, it is imperative that you heed the guidance of health professionals to the letter. The additional testing capabilities of UKHS and its collaboration with Watkins Health Services will help ensure results are determined quickly and communicated promptly.


Barbara A. Bichelmeyer
Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor

Pavika Saripalli, M.D.
Watkins Health Services Chief of Staff



Lawrence Testing Clinic Locations

To help reduce risk of transmission, please use the call center to first make an appointment. Call center staff will inform you of which facility you should visit. Individuals selected for prevalence testing should follow appointment instructions supplied in their notification email.


Watkins Health Services
1200 Schwegler Drive

University of Kansas Health System satellite testing site
Naismith Hall parking lot,
18th Street and Naismith Drive

KU Asymptomatic and Prevalence Testing Site
Lot 91, Between Spencer Museum of Art and KU Football Practice Fields
Follow the Spencer Museum service road off Mississippi St.


COVID-19 Symptoms

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea