We will continue to update our testing policies as new medical guidance from the RI Department of Health or other professional agencies emerges. RISD is working with private, nonprofit agency the Broad Institute (affiliated with MIT and Harvard), to conduct initial and ongoing campus population surveillance testing for COVID-19. Learn more on FDA.GOV about testing terms and types of tests.

Testing FAQs

Testing Dashboard

Process for Positive Cases

Baseline Arrival Testing

All RISD community members living or working on campus during the fall semester were required to be tested at the beginning of the fall semester. Any community member who did not receive a COVID-19 test between August 19–September 16 no longer has access to RISD buildings and exterior spaces for the duration of the fall semester and RISD ID cards have been deactivated.

Surveillance Testing


Testing frequency was assigned based on the likelihood of students and employees having close contact with others on campus. The Public Health Group recommended testing based on definitions associated with High, Medium or Low test frequency. Based on the number of tests available and the size of our population the current allocation of test assignments results in:

  • High frequency – tested weekly
  • Medium frequency – tested every two weeks
  • Low frequency – tested once every 5 or 6 weeks

This approach allows us to test high risk members of the population regularly in addition to randomized samples to monitor the incidence of the virus on campus and follow early indications of shifts in public health trends. The cost of this test will be covered by RISD. Test results will be provided to the individuals tested and to RISD.

Individuals currently experiencing symptoms or in quarantine should NOT participate surveillance testing and should instead go directly to the respiratory clinic (students) or their primary care physician (employees).

Students are assigned testing frequency based on the following criteria:

  • number of in-person or hybrid courses
  • shared bathrooms in residence
  • on-campus employment duties

Employees are assigned testing frequency based on a combination of the following criteria:

  • Faculty – number of hybrid or in-person courses taught
  • Staff – amount of time on campus and/or in close contact with others

Selection and Scheduling

Those who participated in the baseline arrival testing have formed the pool for surveillance testing. All others have had the RISD ID and access cards deactivated. Individuals identified for surveillance testing will receive notification by email with an appointed timeframe for self-administered testing as described above.

Anyone who does not show up to surveillance testing will be asked to test as soon as possible the following week. The following repercussions are for those who miss testing a second week:

  • Student names will be submitted to their deans and faculty members and they may lose the privilege to attend in person classes or access academic buildings.
  • Employee names will be submitted to their supervisors or department heads and they may lose access to campus buildings.


224 Benefit Street
In the temporarily closed Cafe Pearl in the RISD Museum

Bring a valid ID (RISD ID, driver’s license, or passport)
Bring the signed consent form, if possible.

The need to eventually move surveillance testing to an interior location has been in planning for some time, and was done in consultation with our health consultants. The former Cafe Pearl space was identified as having good environmental conditions for this purpose. The space is serviced by two air handling units, both providing fresh air ventilation with two layers of filtration (pre-filter is MERV 8; main filter is MERV 13) and dedicated mechanical exhaust. It is a large space for the number of occupants at any given time. The museum is closed to the public so there will be no public circulation in or through the space, and there will be dedicated entering and exiting pathways. The current number of asymptomatic positive cases identified via surveillance testing has been 6 of approximately 7,000 tests conducted, a very low incidence. The tent that is currently used outside of Thomson House will be relocated to the exterior space outside the cafe entrance and will be used as long as weather permits.


The test procedure will involve a self-collected swab of the “anterior nares” (the inside of the nostril tip), with a medical provider present in case of any questions or concerns. Watch an instructional video on the self-collection process before your testing appointment.

Test Results

Test results will be provided to RISD and to individuals tested within 24 hours. Negative results will come via email from CareEvolve@lknotification.com. Positive results will be communicated by phone from a clinician.

Off-campus testing

Employees who live outside a 75 miles radius of campus will be reimbursed up to $50 if they choose to receive a test off-campus. Tests must be taken during the surveillance period for which the individual was selected. Employees should email humres@risd.edu for information about reimbursements.

Employee results from tests completed offsite must be uploaded via a secure Dropbox link, which can be found here (sign-in using RISD email address and password is required to access the doc.) Please do not send your results via email as they contain confidential information.

Diagnostic Testing

All community members who are symptomatic must let the school know and arrange for a diagnostic test by contacting Student Health Services or their health care provider.


Student Health Services has established a new and fully-staffed campus respiratory clinic in Thompson House for evaluation and testing of COVID-19 for students.


Employees who have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus should contact their primary care provider and their supervisor as well as get tested at a Rhode Island state testing site closest to them.

Health Insurance

Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 will be covered by the RISD student health insurance policy and the RISD employee health insurance policy at approved locations. Hospitalization and treatment for COVID-19 is covered like any standard medical treatment. RISD will cover the cost of testing upon arrival and surveillance testing.

RISD will make options available to its on-campus faculty and staff for obtaining COVID-19 testing when employees do not have health insurance available to cover the cost of testing.