GV’s on-campus COVID-19 test sites are now offering antigen testing


GVL / Katherine Vasile

Lauren Formosa

The wait for faster testing is over now that Grand Valley State University is beginning to offer COVID-19 antigen tests, commonly referred to as rapid tests, at its on-campus testing locations.

Students, staff, and faculty can schedule an antigen test starting on March 1 and will receive their results within one to two hours from their testing period as opposed to the 72 hours it took to receive results for a PCR test.   

The process of receiving the antigen test will remain the same as previous on-campus testing and costs of testing will be covered by the university. The GVSU Virus Action Team has expanded the hours and days available for testing on the Allendale campus and is now allowing all students, staff, and faculty to schedule up to two tests per week.

“Students will be invited to test using the same approach as we have been with a focus on those students who have in-person classes, reside in on-campus or near-campus housing, and those who are at a higher risk such as athletes or resident assistants,” said Vice Provost for Health and Virus Action Team Member Jean Nagelkerk.

According to the CDC, antigen tests are used to detect the presence of a specific viral antigen that indicates if a viral infection is present. These types of tests are most commonly used when diagnosing respiratory pathogens, including influenza viruses and respiratory syncytial viruses. Results for an antigen test can be obtained in a relatively short amount of time when compared to the days it takes to receive results from a PCR test, making the antigen test well-suited for communities where rapid test turnaround is required, such as GVSU’s campus.

“Antigen testing allows for the additional testing hours and quicker turnaround time of test results,” Nagelkerk said. “If an individual receives a positive test result, they can isolate and secure the appropriate health care services.”   

Unlike the PCR test that detects the virus’s genetic material, antigen tests detect specific proteins from the virus in an infected person. While both tests detect active COVID-19 infections and are usually highly accurate, antigen tests have given false positives and negatives in the past, according to the FDA. A healthcare provider may order a PCR test to confirm the results of an antigen test, especially if the patient is still exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms after receiving negative test results.

With the introduction of antigen testing paired with the new two tests per week policy change, the Virus Action Team hopes to make receiving COVID-19 test results quicker and easier for everyone in the campus community. This will also allow students, staff, and faculty the ability to isolate quicker if they are positive for the virus and keep others around them safe. 

“This rapid testing and response assists with keeping our campus community as safe as possible,” Negelkerk said. “The expanded hours of testing will provide students, staff and faculty greater flexibility and convenience in testing. With the testing program changes, we anticipate that more individuals will test per week.”

For more information as well as answers to questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, contact the Virus Action Team at [email protected] or through the Lakers Together Call Center at (616) 331-4636.