COVID-19 Testing for Students Without Campus Access

September 22, 2020

To GW Students:

As we mark nearly three weeks since the beginning of most classes, we now have more than a month of experience with COVID-19 testing for our on-campus cohort—the students, faculty and staff who have been approved for access to our campuses. 

The COVID-19 transmission rate in the Washington, D.C., region continues to be significant. We have confirmed several positive COVID-19 cases among members of our student population who are not part of the on-campus cohort. It is important to identify, isolate and provide support for all cases, as well as health care, where needed.

We have expanded access to our in-house testing to additional GW students who live in the region but are not part of the on-campus cohort. Students can now obtain tests through our in-house testing operation if they believe they have been exposed to the virus or have symptoms. Please note that you are not granted campus access, but this helps protect our entire community, provide us with more insight into off-campus positive cases, allow for quicker test results and proper follow up, and make it easier for students to be tested.

The COVID-19 test, developed by the GW Public Health Laboratory, is a highly accurate test and uses a powerful technique called real time polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) to detect genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19.

If you are unsure of whether you have access to campus, you can verify your access through GWeb. A step-by-step guide is available to assist you. 


You may schedule a “symptomatic” test if you:

  • Have COVID-19 symptoms. In this case, please try to take the test on the earliest available day; or
  • Are worried you have had possible COVID-19 contact. In this case, do not take the test until three to five days after the suspected exposure. You should quarantine, other than going to take your test, until you receive your results.

If you don’t meet these criteria and you want to be tested for other reasons, you may arrange for testing through the Medical Faculty Associates or other testing sites in the area.

To set up your appointment for a COVID-19 symptomatic test, please follow these steps: 

1. LOG INTO the medical portal using your GW email and password to use the online scheduling system.

Note: you must make your appointment through the medical portal. The testing center does not have a call-in system for scheduling appointments.

2. ENSURE that your mobile phone number and carrier is current in the medical portal, and activate text messaging to receive your test results, as well as any updates and reminders about testing. Check this step-by-step guide for assistance. 

3. SIGN the Consent Form, before your arrival. Your test may be delayed if you do not complete this prior to your appointment. 

If we have your current cell phone number and if you have consented, your test results will be returned to you within 24 hours. Results also will be shared with Colonial Health Center providers, as well as with the Campus COVID Support Team (CCST). In this way, we hope to be able to provide prompt clinical care and other support to any of our students in the region who contract the COVID-19 virus.

To help us in this testing effort, we encourage you to update your current address in GWeb

Please remember, if you have not been granted permission to be on campus and you live in the D.C. region:

  • Please do not come to campus and do not attempt to access campus buildings other than the campus testing center, if needed.
  • Wear a mask or face covering unless completely by yourself, eating, or vigorously exercising.
  • Quarantine or self-isolate according to local health directives, including following travel to high-risk states.  
  • Maintain six feet of distance from those who are not members of your household.
  • Only attend gatherings of 10 people or fewer that also adhere to the above guidelines.

These actions are critical to our response to the pandemic, and together our efforts have allowed us to continue to fulfill our academic mission despite these challenging times. 

For additional information related to GW’s Fall 2020 Plan and how we are responding to slow the spread of coronavirus on our campuses, visit, call GW’s COVID-19 Information Line at 1-855-GWU-INFO (855-498-4636) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday or email [email protected]. GW’s COVID-19 Testing Dashboard is also available. 

If you experience any issues with your access to campus or the training and testing systems, please alert us via the COVID-19 Campus Assistance Portal, which will come to our teams for follow-up.

In the meantime, we hope that your semester is off to a successful start and that you are finding new opportunities in virtual education, your research and your work.  Please avail yourselves of the many ways to stay connected with each other.  We remain grateful to all those who have led the establishment and continued successful execution of our testing operation and public health protocols, and we thank our entire community for taking seriously our responsibility to keep one another healthy and safe. 


M.L. “Cissy” Petty
Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students

M. Brian Blake
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs

Lynn Goldman
Dean, Milken Institute School of Public Health

Scott Burnotes
Vice President for Safety and Facilities