COVID-19 Testing

COVID testing provides a layer of community protection for TU students, faculty and staff. 

Initial COVID-19 Testing

Following University System of Maryland (USM) protocols around COVID-19 testing, all students, faculty and staff returning to Towson University’s campus in person must provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test result within 14 days prior to returning to campus.

COVID-19 Sentinel Testing

As part of the university’s continuing efforts to support campus health and safety, TU is conducting ongoing COVID testing of a representative sample of the university community for the remainder of the fall. This process is known as sentinel testing. It helps us understand the relative infection rate of our TU community and compare it to our surrounding community.

Every two weeks, a random sample of those regularly on campusfor work, attending in-person classes, or living in residence halls—will be required to make an appointment and come to the University Health Center for a COVID-19 PCR test. 

Individuals selected for sentinel testing will be contacted via email with instructions. It is critically important that if you are selected to be part of a random sample group that you schedule and complete a COVID-19 test at the University Health Center as directed. Individual results will be shared with those tested, and de-identified information will be used to help estimate the prevalence of COVID within the TU community and to monitor the overall health of the community.

FAQs on Sentinel Testing

How is the sample group determined?

Every two weeks, a randomly selected population for testing will include 10 percent of commuter students, faculty and staff who routinely report to campus, and 25 percent of residential students and student athletes. If you are a residential student, a faculty or staff member regularly reporting to work, or you are visiting campus regularly (more than four hours per week), you will automatically be considered.

What are the consequences if I do not get tested in the allotted week?

If selected in the sentinel group, failure to test within the specified time frame may result in limiting or eliminating access to campus and campus facilities and other corrective action as determined by the circumstances for not being tested.

How often can I be selected?

Like any random sampling, it is possible that you may be selected more than once, or not at all. You must complete a test in each period you are selected.

How will I be notified?

Randomly selected individuals will receive an email approximately one week prior to a testing period requesting them to schedule a test at the University Health Center. Those completing the test will receive a message informing them of whether or not they may continue reporting to campus. Those with a positive result will receive additional information from the University Health Center.

Can I take my random sample test anywhere?

No. You must complete a test at the University Health Center if you are selected for testing. An appointment is required. Walk-up testing is no longer permitted. If selected, please follow the instructions in the email you receive to schedule your test at the appropriate time.

Can anyone not part of sentinel testing still get tested at the Health Center?

Yes, but it must be under the direction of a healthcare provider. In order to have appropriate resources for sentinel testing, only those selected for testing, or individuals who are requested to have a test by the Health Center will be tested on campus moving forward. If you are a student, faculty or staff member who would like to be tested, but are not selected, please contact your healthcare provider or utilize one of the free testing sites now available in Baltimore County, including the Maryland State Fairgrounds. You can access a list of free test sites here.

On-campus Testing 

COVID-19 testing is available at the University Health Center only for students, faculty and staff who need initial return testing, testing at the request of a healthcare provider, or for those selected for sentinel testing. You will be notified by email if you are selected for sentinel testing. 

The University Health Center requires appointments for all COVID-19 sentinel testing to allow for a more streamlined testing process. You must register at least four days in advance for an appointment for a COVID-19 PCR test at the Health Center. Walk-up test appointments are no longer accepted. 

The TU Health Center’s heated, outdoor COVID test site is open from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. The tent is located in the lower area of Lot 14, behind the Health and Counseling Center. Parking is available in designated areas with COVID-19 test center parking signage in Lot 14. 

Please bring the following documents, printed and completed: 

The tests conducted on campus are administered via a gentle swab of the lower nasal passage, placed less than one inch into the nose.

Results from the campus tests are returned in two to five business days. University Health Services will notify you by email if your test result is negative. They will contact you by phone if your result is positive. If you have not heard anything after five business days, you may call the Health Center at 410-704-2466 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to request your result. 

Off-Campus COVID-19 Testing

In order to provide capacity for sentinel testing, individuals not selected for sentinel testing should contact their healthcare provider and may use off-campus testing sites if they are symptomatic or if they have been exposed to an individual who has or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. See a list of Maryland testing sites.

Students whose primary healthcare provider is the University Health Center should contact the health center, 410-704-2466 or email , if they are concerned about symptoms or exposure. 

When to Self-Quarantine or Isolate

Based upon CDC guidance, anyone who has been in close contact with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.
Individuals who are symptomatic and awaiting COVID test results should isolate for 10 days upon the onset of symptoms.

Individuals who are being tested as part of the sentinel testing procedures and who are asymptomatic do not need to quarantine.

About COVID Test Results

Positive Test Results

If you test positive but are not experiencing any symptoms, you should not come to campus. You should also contact your healthcare provider and self-isolate for at least 10 days, as long as you remain symptom free. You should continue to monitor for symptoms and if symptoms do develop, discuss these symptoms along with any treatment or other recommendations, with your healthcare provider.

Negative Test Results

A negative test result means that the virus that causes COVID-19 was not found in your sample. If a person is experiencing illness symptoms at the time the sample was collected, this usually means that COVID-19 did not cause the illness.

It is possible for this test to give a negative result that is incorrect in some people with COVID-19. Your healthcare provider will consider the test result together with any symptoms and possible exposures in deciding how to best care for you.

It is also possible for this test to give a negative result when tested very early during the infection. If at any time you develop symptoms, you should contact your healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that a negative result does not mean that you cannot still acquire COVID-19 infection in the future.