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Rapid antigen COVID testing

Why take a rapid antigen home COVID test?

Use of COVID-19 self-tests is recommended when you feel sick, 5-7 days after you've been exposed to someone with COVID-19, or immediately before an indoor event or gathering. In combination with vaccination, masking, and distancing, rapid self-testing is very effective at reducing the risks of transmitting COVID-19. You may also be asked to complete a rapid antigen COVID-19 test during your isolation period to discontinue your isolation early, should you become infected with COVID-19. Isolation and Quarantine Guidance 

Knowing this, it is recommended to keep a few rapid COVID tests at your place of residence.

How to obtain rapid COVID tests: 

  • Pick up free COVID-19 rapid antigen home test kits at Counseling & Health services, or Human Resources, as supplies allow. 
  • You can order and pick up home antigen COVID-19 tests at the preferred pharmacy of your health insurance company or submit for reimbursement through your health insurance. Students with the BCBS school health insurance plan can find more information here. Those with other insurance plans will need to inquire with your individual policy. 


When and how to take your rapid at-home antigen COVID test

  • If your test result is negative, the test did not detect an infection. However, this does not definitively rule out an infection and you should repeat your test in 48 hours. 
  • If your test result is positive, this indicates that you have COVID-19 and you should initiate isolation for a minimum of 5 days. The day that you test positive is you day 0 of isolation. Isolation guidance here

How to read your results and document them

  • Every rapid COVID test has different instructions for performing the test and reading the results. Please consult the package insert in the test that you performed.
  • For most tests:
    • once the appropriate time has passed, typically 15 minutes for most tests, look at your test results. 
    • If you see one line under the "C", your test is NEGATIVE. 
    • If you see one line under the "C" and one line under the "T", your result is POSITIVE. Even if the second line is very faint, your test is POSITIVE. Review your test with good lighting. 
  • Take a photo of your test, no matter what the result is, so that you have this documentation should you need it. The photo you take needs to include your test result, a photo ID (such as a clipper card or license), and the date/time (such as in front of a computer or phone). 

Rapid antigen self test card with 1 solid "C" line and a faint "T" line, which is a POSITIVE result

How students can share their positive test results with health services

  • ONLY upload your results if your test was POSITIVE (two lines), or if you were instructed to upload a negative result by health services. It is recommended that you keep a photo of your result, whether positive or negative, for your own records.
  • You can share your results by logging in to your student health portal, choosing "message" > "new message" > "I have a COVID concern, such as symptoms, an exposure, or have tested positive". This will get sent directly to our COVID support team in health services.
  • You can also call our COVID/public health support line, 978-542-3240. Please leave a voicemail if no one answers and we will return your call within 1 business day. 


Do You Need More Help?

Counseling and Health Services
Walk-In Service: North Campus, Ellison Campus Center 107
Find more information: Online Health Portal