Employee Testing Program
Western’s Voluntary COVID-19 Employee Testing Program – Calendar Year 2021
As part of Western’s comprehensive approach to reducing COVID-19 transmission, Western is encouraging all faculty and staff working regularly onsite through December 2021 to participate in a voluntary COVID-19 testing program that provides for asymptomatic (symptom-free) testing once per week. Employees may use work time to get tested. This program is specifically designed to provide regular testing when you are not experiencing COVID-related symptoms.
If you are experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and/or have a known or possible exposure, you should consult with your primary care provider for individualized care.
Who should enroll
To support the health and safety of our community during this pandemic, Western is encouraging all faculty and staff who will be onsite at least once per week during the 2021 calendar year to enroll in the program. Those individuals who have in-person interactions through the course of their work are a priority and are strongly encouraged to participate. Enrollment is easy; just fill out the testing enrollment esign form.
Student testing is conducted separately from this program. Students, including onsite student employees, are tested through the student testing program.
What happens when you enroll
You will receive confirmation of your enrollment and more detailed information regarding scheduling a test and, for overtime eligible staff, information regarding how to report any work time used to get tested. Your supervisor/chair will receive notification of your enrollment.
You will receive an email every two weeks to remind you to get tested. Weekly testing is voluntary and you may choose not to get tested at any time.
Enrollment is easy; just fill out the testing enrollment esign form.
When and where testing takes place
Western has contracted with Northwest Labs to provide employees with testing at their drive-through COVID testing center on Mitchell Way by the Bellingham Airport. Testing conducted through NW Labs will be paid for by Western. Employees will need to schedule an appointment for testing directly through NW Labs. Please coordinate with your supervisor when scheduling your test to ensure operational needs are met.
Other testing options continue to be available through the community, including through the County Health Department and Primary Care Providers. Employees may use work time to obtain an asymptomatic COVID-19 test through these community options, however there is a possibility you will incur out-of-pocket costs. We recommend using Northwest Labs for asymptomatic testing to ensure all costs are covered by the university.
If you work outside Whatcom County, please reach out to your HR Consultant to determine available testing options based on your location.
Important prevention strategies
Asymptomatic testing is just one strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19; it is still critical that to follow the three W’s:
- WASH your hands
- WATCH your distance
- WEAR your mask
If you have a known or possible exposure to COVID-19, and/or are experiencing symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, do not report to work onsite and consult with your primary care provider.
Frequently asked questions
Do I have to get tested?
This program is voluntary, it is up to you if you would like to participate and you decide how frequently to test. To support the health and safety of the Western community, we strongly encourage all employees who are working onsite and having regular in-person interactions to enroll in the testing program.
Is there a cost?
Testing through Northwest Labs is paid for by Western. Testing through Whatcom County Health Department is provided at no cost to most community members. If you choose to be tested through your primary care provider, your primary care provider (PCP) will determine if you need to be tested. You will typically not experience any out-of-pocket expenses if your PCP has considered your testing medically necessary.
How frequently may I get tested?
Western will cover the cost of up to one test per week through Northwest Labs.
Can I get tested during my normal working hours?
Yes, you may use work time to get tested when asymptomatic. Coordinate with your supervisor when scheduling your test to ensure operational needs are met.
What happens if my test result comes back positive?
Stay home and self-isolate from others and follow the guidance you receive from the Whatcom County Health Department. Notify your supervisor and email HR at HR.COVID.Assistance@wwu.edu; more information regarding what to do if you have a positive COVID-19 test can be found on HR’s COVID Information webpage.
Who will be informed of my test result?
If you are tested through Northwest Labs, any positive test result will be shared with the Whatcom County Health Department so they can provide assistance and perform contact tracing if needed.
What transportation options are available?
Here are some travel options:
Whatcom Transportation Association has bus routes available from Western to the testing site. As participants in the Voluntary Employee COVID-19 Testing Program Employees, you are eligible for an employee bus pass that provides unlimited rides on all WTA bus routes. For more information on how to ride the bus and assistance planning your trip please visit Transportation Services.
Biking up to the testing site is also an option. For a Bike Map of Bellingham and for safety resources please visit the Cycling Resources website.
Your department may also have a shared vehicle that can be used for travel. Check with your department to see if yours is available for testing use.
I am at a Western worksite outside of Whatcom county. Can I still participate in the program?
Yes! Please coordinate either with your primary care provider or your local health department to arrange testing. Departmental P-cards may be used to pay for the test. Be sure to reference your Voluntary Employee COVID-19 Testing Program form in the Transaction Notes for the charge.
How long will this program be in place?
This program will continue through December 2021. We will evaluate the program over the course of the year to see if we are able to offer it in future quarters.
I have more questions – who do I contact?
We would be happy to discuss your questions. Please contact your Jocylynn Kelley at Jocylynn.Kelley@wwu.edu or (360)650-3448.
Instructions to obtain COVID test through Northwest Labs:
1. Create Your Order through NW Labs Portal
For first-time testing in the program:
- Create your TestDirectly login information.
- Complete your profile: this information is auto-filled into an order/requisition form each time you wish to be tested
- Select “I agree to NWLabs T&C”
- Click “Place Order” – this generates an order form (don’t worry about the fields noted with red asterisks – they are no longer required)
For subsequent testing:
You must complete a new order on TestDirectly for each test you schedule. When scheduling subsequent tests, log into your portal and complete the following steps:
- Select "Required Information"
- Complete the required questions
- Select "Update"
- Select "Place Order"
- Choose your appointment time
- Complete Your Information
- Please note the following sections:
- “Have you spoken with your provider about a COVID-19 test?” You may answer “no” as this program does not require a physician’s order.
- For questions regarding ordering physician information please enter “WWUEH”.
- “Is this an employer requested test?” This is a voluntary program, thus please enter “no.”
- Select "Complete Appointment"
3. Go to the Testing Site
- Present your ID to the NW Labs staff
- Get your test!
- When available, you will receive an e-mail directing you to the NW Labs Portal to review your lab results.