Pre-arrival student COVID-19 testing plan set for spring 2021 semester

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University announced Wednesday (Nov. 11) the details of its Protect Purdue COVID-19 testing plan for students returning to campus for in-person classes in the upcoming spring 2021 semester.

  • All undergraduate students in the spring 2021 residential option, as well as all graduate and professional program students coming to the West Lafayette campus for the semester beginning Jan. 19 must be tested for COVID-19 and be cleared for campus access by the Protect Purdue Health Center before moving into residence halls or Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life houses and/or attending classes. 
  • Students returning to campus who are arriving from outside the United States must self-quarantine for 14 days and coordinate with the Protect Purdue Health Center to schedule a COVID-19 test before coming to campus by emailing
  • Individuals who selected the fully online option should not be returning to campus and do not need to complete a COVID-19 test at this time.

“The comprehensive Protect Purdue pre-arrival student testing for the upcoming spring semester builds on the effectiveness of our testing plan developed and implemented during the fall semester to reopen our campus for in-person classroom instruction,” said Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer of the Protect Purdue Health Center. “We remain committed to helping keep our Purdue community of more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff safe during this global pandemic and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.”

Purdue will cover the costs of pre-arrival COVID-19 testing for students registered for in-person classes. The testing process varies for students depending on several factors. Students on Wednesday received a message outlining specific instructions, and a dedicated return-to-campus COVID-19 testing webpage provides additional information. Below is an overview of testing procedures for students attending in-person classes this spring.

Students living in University Residences or a Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life house

All students currently living in University Residences or Fraternity, Sorority, or Cooperative Life housing who plan to return in January will receive a Vault Health COVID-19 test kit to take home with them when they leave campus for winter break, to be completed no sooner than 14 days prior to their returning to campus. 

Upon completion of the COVID-19 test via a secure on-demand video visit with a Vault Health practitioner, students will mail the sample to Vault Health in the provided postage-paid envelope and will receive their results by email generally within 48-72 hours after the sample kit arrives for processing. A copy of the test result also will be sent to PPHC. 

A negative test result must be on file with PPHC or a PPHC-approved isolation protocol must be completed (if positive) before students can move into a residence hall or Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life house and/or participate in classroom instruction. Once the COVID-19 test is completed, students should continue to rigorously follow the elements of the Protect Purdue Pledge — to protect yourself, protect others and protect the Purdue community.

Students in off-campus housing

Students currently living in off-campus housing will be tested on campus at testing sites before the beginning of classes. Additional details about testing sites, hours of operation and modes of testing will be distributed once they are finalized.

New students and current students in the fall 2020 fully online option

New students in the spring 2021 semester and students currently in the fully online option who are transitioning to the residential experience will receive instructions in the coming weeks on completing the COVID-19 testing requirement via email. Closer to the start of the spring semester, these students also will be required to address the following checklist items before arriving on campus:

  • Complete Health and Safety Training and Protect Purdue Pledge adoption in Brightspace.
  • Update their mobile phone number and campus address in myPurdue for contact tracing purposes.

If a student tests positive

Any student who tests positive must self-isolate at home and may not be on campus for any reason until medically cleared by the Protect Purdue Health Center to move into a residence hall or Fraternity, Sorority and Cooperative Life house and/or begin on-campus programming and classes. PPHC will help coordinate the self-isolation process.

Students who have tested positive on or after Oct. 21

Per CDC testing guidelines that do not recommend retesting within 90 days of a positive COVID-19 test, students who have already tested positive for COVID-19 on or after Oct. 21 (i.e., within 90 days of the start of the semester on Jan. 19) will not be asked to submit an additional COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus in January. Information on how these students will be cleared for campus is contained in the student email.

About the Protect Purdue Health Center

The single-point health center for all things COVID-19-related for the Purdue community, the Protect Purdue Health Center is staffed with a dedicated team of physicians, registered nurses, case managers, contact tracers and support staff. PPHC also is working closely with Purdue’s Health Monitoring and Surveillance Team to ensure the safety, health and well-being of individuals and the community. PPHC is available 24/7 at 765-496-INFO (4636) or toll-free at 1-833-571-1043.

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

Media contact: Tim Doty, 

Source: Esteban Ramirez,