COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Instructions

Refer to this message for the COVID-19 surveillance testing process and requirements. 

Sign up for exit testing:

Do NOT complete an arrival or surveillance test if: 

  • You feel sick. If you are experiencing COVID-like symptoms, please contact the Lehigh Health and Wellness Center (HWC) at 610-758-3870. In addition, you have the option of contacting the LVHN 24/7 Nurse Line for assessment and testing. 

  • You have been identified as a close contact requiring quarantine. The HWC will arrange alternative testing for close contacts. Please note that a negative test does not remove a person who is identified as a close contact from quarantine.

  • You have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 90 days. Individuals who have tested positive may continue to have positive viral tests (antigen or PCR tests, including the VAULT saliva tests) for up to 90 days after infection.

  • If you tested positive through a source other than Lehigh and have not notified the HWC, please indicate this by uploading your positive test results on the HWC patient portal with the required information including your full name, date of specimen collection, the type of test (antigen or PCR; note that antibody tests are not accepted), and your results. Until this information is submitted and reviewed, you will still be required to complete surveillance testing.

If you have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, having received COVID vaccination does not result in a false positive PCR or antigen test. 

Important reminders about the test

  • All testing will take place in the Butz Lobby of Zoellner Arts Center. Please enter the main Zoellner entrance via the west-side doors facing the Tamerler Courtyard. The testing stations are located on the 2nd floor of ZAC. You will queue up the stairs leading to the upper lobby. If you require elevator access, please take the elevator to the 2nd floor and queue there. 

  • Use your Lehigh email address when scheduling your appointment. 

  • You will need your LIN to take the test. If you do not know it, please look it up on Banner in advance of your appointment and bring it with you. 

  • In the event of inclement weather, please watch for communications from the university regarding the status of COVID testing for that day. 

  • Lehigh staff and testing representatives from the organization Drug Free Sport will staff the testing site with proper social distancing and health protocols in place. Students should hold to their scheduled appointment time to help minimize the number of students accessing the testing site at the same time.  

  • Students must complete the daily COVID-19 self-assessment before coming to the testing site to complete the Vault Health test, just as is required before accessing any campus buildings. Stay home if you do not feel well. 

  • Wear a face covering at all times, other than when you are taking your test. We strongly recommend double-masking whenever you are near others.

  • Arrive at the testing site at the scheduled appointment time with a smartphone or device. A smart device is required to log in or to register a new account. 

  • It is very important that you arrive at the testing site at your scheduled date and time. The testing process should take approximately 15 minutes per person. You may be asked to stand in a socially distanced queue to wait for your appointment. Please follow all directional instructions and maintain 6’ of distance from others at all times. 

  • A Lehigh staff member will be on site to ensure social distancing and the flow of appointments. Please have your Lehigh ID available at all times.

  • Drink plenty of water ahead of time on the day of your test so you are hydrated, which is key to producing enough saliva to successfully complete the test, but make sure to fast for 30 minutes before the test (NO food or drink, including water, and no smoking)

  • Using a smartphone or device, scan the provided QR code to visit Vault’s web-app for questions regarding COVID-19 exposure/symptoms. You should bring your login information for the Vault Health account you created using your Lehigh email for your earlier tests. 

  • Enter the serial number on the Saliva Collection Device when prompted by the web-app.

  • Provide a saliva sample under test supervision.

  • Vault will return test results to all applicable parties electronically within 48-72 hours from the sample’s arrival at the lab.

  • After completing your test, you should immediately leave the area and avoid congregating in groups. Social distancing and the wearing of face coverings are required at all times. 

  • When you complete your daily Hawkwatch COVID-19 Self-Assessment, select that you completed a "Lehigh Administered Test." If everything else indicates you are approved to come to campus, this will allow you to receive a "green badge." You do not need to quarantine while you await your result.

If you test positive

One can test positive for COVID-19 without symptoms. If you do test positive, you must isolate. Students who test positive will receive follow-up from the Health and Wellness Center and will be instructed to isolate as per our isolation and quarantine protocol.

  • If you live off campus, you will be contacted by the HWC Contact Tracing Team. 

  • If you live on campus, you will be contacted by the HWC Contact Tracing Team and the Relocation Team with information about relocation to isolation housing. 

  • If you receive a positive result after 4:00 PM on a weekday or over the weekend, you can expect to hear from a HWC Contact Tracing Team member the following weekday. 

  • If you receive your test result over the weekend, you can expect to receive a follow-up call from the HWC Contact Tracing Team on Monday. Students living on campus in residence halls will be contacted over the weekend to arrange relocation housing. You should remain in your residence and self-isolate until you receive further directions from these teams.  

  • If you are experiencing symptoms at any time, including while awaiting follow-up from the HWC for a positive test result, please call the HWC's main number at 610-758-3870. There is a HWC clinician-on-call after-hours and on weekends for medical concerns. At any time, if you are experiencing a true medical emergency, call LUPD at 610-758-4200 or dial 9-1-1. 

Information about false positives: We’ve received questions from students who tested positive for COVID-19 on a surveillance test and later received a negative result from a rapid test. To be clear, the likelihood of a false positive from the PCR saliva tests that we are using for surveillance testing is small. Rapid tests, which are often antigen tests, are much more likely to return false negative results and do not “prove” that a surveillance test was a false positive. For those who receive a positive result from our Vault Health surveillance tests, it is critical that even if you don’t have symptoms, you isolate immediately rather than seeking out additional tests and risk spreading the virus. More information regarding the data to support the accuracy of this test is included below under “Additional Information.” Because the likelihood of getting a false positive is low, Vault Health does not recommend taking another test after testing positive, even if you don’t have symptoms. In addition, once a student has a positive surveillance test, per guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Health they are considered to be a positive case and must follow isolation guidelines.

If you test negative

Please remember that a negative test does not indicate that you are not infected or that you will not get infected in the coming days. It only indicates that you are not shedding detectable levels of the virus at the time that you took the test. Given the incubation time of the virus, tests will likely be negative for 2-3 days after the initial infection. Wearing a face covering, practicing social distancing, and practicing positive health behaviors are most critical.

Questions and Contact Information

-For all contact information, refer to the COVID-19 contacts resource page

-If you have any questions about the status of your test results, contact Vault Health at Do not call the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center for this information. 

-For surveillance testing FAQs, please visit the COVID-19 Surveillance Testing page. For answers not covered by the FAQ, contact  

-For questions about COVID-19 related symptoms and symptomatic or close contact testing, contact the Lehigh University Health and Wellness Center at 610-758-3870.

-To view the recording of the Feb. 9 COVID-19 town hall discussionclick here.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and attention to COVID-19 testing requirements, particularly as we adjust in response to campus conditions. The cooperation of our entire community is essential in helping navigate this semester safely and effectively. 


Nathan Urban, Ph.D., Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

David Rubenstein, Psy.D., Executive Director, Health and Wellness Center



Additional Information Provided by Vault Health’s Website:

How accurate is this test for detecting the coronavirus?

This RT-qPCR test is very sensitive for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, with 98% of tests providing either a positive or a negative result, and only 2% of tests providing an inconclusive result. The test can detect fewer than 10 copies of viral genes per milliliter of saliva, and can detect the presence of virus in the saliva within 2 days of infection and up to 28 days after infection.  Across all known gene sequences of SARS-CoV-2, the test detects the ones in the genes of interest ~100% of the time, making it highly sensitive and specific for those genes. The false positive and false negative rates for this are both 1%. A ‘false positive’ is a result that is positive that actually should have been negative, and a “false negative” is a negative result that should have been positive. With a false positive and negative rate of 1%, this means that 99% of the time, a positive or negative result is the actual result after just a single test. To put this in context, a lot of COVID-19 tests have a low false positive rate, but the false negative rates of some nasopharyngeal swab-based tests can be as high as 25-35%