Rapid Testing, Giving it the Good Old College Try

How universities and colleges are using rapid antigen testing to help bring students back to campus. 

Rapid Testing, Giving it the Good Old College Try
Diagnostics Testing | Dec. 15, 2021

It's a moment of immense pride tinged with the touches of sadness and melancholy. Dropping your kids off at college … and then leaving them to their new lives as you drive away. An already daunting task made harder during a pandemic.

With many college students returning to campuses and the promise of even more in the fall, the peace of mind that your children and their new best friends are taking the steps to return to normal is invaluable. That's why many schools, including Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., are leaning on testing to help bring students and staff back at increasing larger scale. And now, with our BinaxNOW rapid test authorized over the counter for people with and without symptoms, mass testing in and around the nation's quads just got easier.

Northwestern needs to test more than 21,000 students and staff and became an early adopter of testing students in 2020. Here's how it works at Northwestern and more than 300 other colleges and universities across the U.S.:

  • BinaxNOW delivers results in 15 minutes.
  • Those results are available on the NAVICA app within 30 minutes, delivered directly to students' iOS or Android mobile devices.

It's that simple. And with frequent testing appointments available, it's creating a more normal environment as vaccines continue to roll out.

In addition to the program started in 2020, students, staff, and faculty receive additional BinaxNOW Self Test kits through on campus pick-ups. This provides an extra layer of confidence by allowing student and staff to have answers right from their homes and dorms when they need them.

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It's the same at schools like the University of Wisconsin, James Madison University and North Carolina A&T — one of the largest historically black colleges and universities in the country that saw one of the lowest rates of COVID-19 spread among public universities in North Carolina — to name a few. All are utilizing BinaxNOW rapid tests to test their communities.

Since the program started in May 2021, Northwestern has distributed 241,000 tests amongst students, staff, and faculty through both professional use and self-tests. Participants shared that they found the tests easy to use, provided quick results and made testing more accessible.

"I was able to use the BinaxNOW Self Tests I received at Northwestern to quickly and easily test my family after my children had been exposed. Continuing to regularly test myself allowed me to return to work on campus with peace of mind knowing that I wouldn't transmit the virus to others." -- Noel Davis, Northwestern University.

As we continue to make progress in our fight against COVID-19, providing a safe and healthy learning environment for students and faculty is a necessary element of universities return-to-campus plans. With BinaxNOW available for asymptomatic use, access to rapid, frequent testing for universities can help slow the spread of the virus and allow a sense of normalcy back on campus. The testing program at Northwestern proved to provide their community with more confidence as they returned to work and in person learning.

Welcome back students. We're so happy to have you back. It's another moment of immense pride tinged with none of the melancholy. Dropping your kids off at college … and knowing your kids can get back to a more normal college life thanks to testing.

Now, about that new best friend.

This story was originally published on April 21, 2021. It was updated on Dec. 15, 2021.

Important Safety Information

The BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Antigen Self Test is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 from individuals with or without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19 infection when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. This test is authorized for non-prescription home use with self-collected direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals aged 15 years or older or adult collected anterior nasal swab samples from individuals aged two years or older.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag 2 Card is a lateral flow immunoassay intended for the qualitative detection of nucleocapsid protein antigen from SARS-CoV-2 in direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from COVID-19 symptomatic individuals tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests within the first seven days of symptom onset.

This test is authorized for use with direct anterior nasal (nares) swab samples from individuals without symptoms or other epidemiological reasons to suspect COVID-19, when tested twice over three days with at least 36 hours between tests. Testing is limited to laboratories certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. §263a, that meet the requirements to perform moderate, high, or waived complexity tests. This test is authorized for use at the Point of Care (POC), i.e., in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, Certificate of Compliance, or Certificate of Accreditation.

The BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag tests have not been FDA cleared or approved. They have been authorized by the FDA under an emergency use authorization. The tests have been authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARS-CoV-2, not for any other viruses or pathogens, and are only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.

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