Voluntary Employee Testing Program

Update

The contract with Northwest Laboratories for both the voluntary and mandatory employee testing programs will end on June 30, 2022.  Employees who need testing are encouraged to obtain at-home tests, which can be obtained free of charge from the following websites:

Reporting of employee positive tests will continue to be done through Human Resources.  We will continue to provide information regarding positive tests on Western’s Covid Dashboard, and on Campus Buildings with Confirmed Positive Cases.

Covid Coordination and Resilience will continue to monitor the new infection and hospitalization trends and review all recommendations of our local and national health organizations and will make changes as appropriate.

Western’s Voluntary COVID-19 Employee Testing Program

As part of Western’s comprehensive approach to reducing COVID-19 transmission, Western is encouraging all faculty and staff working regularly onsite 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 to enroll in the program.  Those individuals who have weekly 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. 

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 

Recommended Option:

Western has contracted with Northwest Labs to provide employees with testing at their drive-through COVID testing center on Meridian Street.  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 Options:

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:

Bus

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.

Bicycling

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.

Department Vehicle

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.

 

Instructions to obtain COVID test through Northwest Labs: 

1. Create Your Order through NW Labs Portal 

For first-time testing in the program:

  1. Create your TestDirectly login information.
  2. Complete your profile: this information is auto-filled into an order/requisition form each time you wish to be tested
  3. Select “I agree to NWLabs T&C”
  4. Click “Place Order” – this generates an order form (don’t worry about the fields noted with red asterisks – they are no longer required) 

IMPORTANT! For subsequent testing:

To avoid delays in receiving results, you must complete a new order on TestDirectly for each test you schedule. When scheduling subsequent tests, log into your portal via the WWU specific link (https://www.testdirectly.com/patient/home/nwldrivethroughwwuand complete the following steps:

  1. Select "Required Information"
  2. Complete the required questions
  3. Select "Update"
  4. Select "Place Order"

2. Schedule appointment at NWL Drive-through 

  1. Choose your appointment time
  2. Complete Your Information
  3. 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.”
  4. Select "Complete Appointment"
  5. Confirmation

3. Go to the Testing Site

  1. Present your ID to the NW Labs staff 
  2. Get your test! 
  3. When available, you will receive an e-mail directing you to the NW Labs Portal to review your lab results.