More information has become available about the importance of testing individuals infected with COVID-19 who never show symptoms (also known as asymptomatic cases). While conclusive research isn’t yet available, the CDC currently estimates that as many as 40% of COVID-19 infections may be occurring in asymptomatic individuals who can still spread the virus even though they do not show signs of illness. To keep SMC students, staff and faculty as safe as possible, regular testing, while not perfect, is currently the most reliable way to identify asymptomatic students.
Regular testing does not take the place of the 5 Simple Rules. All students and employees of the college will continue to follow the 5 Simple Rules. These basic precautions, plus testing, should work together to protect your health and allow the College to quickly identify outbreaks and contain them before they become uncontrollable. We want to provide you with what you have been asking for: an opportunity to return to the classroom. Regular testing is another weapon in the fight to offer you that experience, safely.
Colleges and universities all want the same thing: to reopen safely this fall if possible. All college leaders are making plans based on specific factors such as student body size, the percentages of commuter students vs. resident students, the availability of testing and health care on their campus or in their areas, the level of community spread in their areas, and several other factors. Each campus is different.
At SMC, we believe weekly testing is an appropriate level to identify asymptomatic cases of infection as early as possible to reduce spread. This periodic testing, added to all of the safety protocols in our Pioneers Together reopening plan, will better protect the health of all on our campus.
Commuting students who are taking only courses online this fall and do not plan to come to campus do not need to be tested. Likewise, if you are enrolled in our online Associate in Criminal Justice Degree program or our new online Associate in Arts program you do not need to be tested if you do not plan to come to campus.
SMC has engaged the Department of Health and Environment Control (DHEC) to provide on-campus testing. Their trained health care team will collect a specimen from students via a nasal swab for a viral test to determine active current infection. SMC will not conduct antibody tests that can reveal a past infection. SC House Calls will use a PCR test, which is recommended by the CDC.
Effective October 12, 2020, testing costs will be covered by DHEC.
The tests will be 100% free for all SMC students, and insurance will not need to be filed.
Prior to October 12, 2020:
The tests will be 100% free for all SMC students, regardless of their health insurance status. Students with insurance will need to provide the information at the time of the first test.
Students without health insurance and undocumented students are covered by the CARES Act.
Q&A for students with health insurance:
1.) Will my insurance be billed?
Yes. The CARES Act mandates that insurers cover the cost of testing, including copays.
2.) Who is the ordering provider for the test?
SC House Calls, which is providing all testing services for SMC.
3.) If my insurance refuses to pay who will be notified?
SC House Calls will be notified that your insurance will not pay. You may also receive notification; however, you won't be charged by SC House Calls.
4.) Will I have to pay if insurance refuses to pay?
No, the Cares Act funding will pay or the College will.
5.) What if I get a notice from my insurance company?
Please bring all insurance notices you receive to the SC House Calls COVID-19 testing area, operating out of the Moore Fitness Center on SMC's campus. Or, call the SMC Business Office at 864-316-3154.
6.) Will I see this COVID-19 test on my EOB (Explanation of Benefits)?
You may, but not always. It depends on your insurer.
7.) Who can I call with more questions?
Please contact the SMC Business Office at 864-316-3154.
The test takes about 10 seconds. In a nasal swab test, a small, soft-tipped swab will be inserted into one or both of your nostrils and twirled a few times until it is covered in secretions. The tests performed on SMC’s campus will use a smaller swab than that used in first-generation nasal tests. The new swab can collect secretions without going as far into the nasal cavity or as deep. While the swab may be uncomfortable to some, in the vast majority of tests, it is not painful.
Less invasive testing methods may also become available, and SMC is making every effort to stay on top of new possibilities for faster, more comfortable testing.
In most cases, within 48-72 hours. You will receive a phone call from DHEC only if your results are positive followed by an email to you SMC email account. If your results are negative, you will only receive an email. It is important that you check your SMC email and voicemail frequently this semester so that you will quickly receive any needed instructions if your test is positive.
You will receive your results directly from the DHEC team. If you get positive results, it is your responsibility to contact SMC Wellness at (864)590-6595 so that we can initiate contact tracing and make sure you have what you need. Other SMC employees may have a legitimate need for the information and will be notified only when necessary to protect your health or the health of other SMC students. Finally, DHEC and the laboratory that performs the analysis of your test must maintain your test results, as well.
If you are positive for COVID-19, you will receive a phone call from a Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) representative with a follow up email to your SMC email account with the positive test results. If you need to update your phone number with SMC, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get it updated for you.
A positive test will require intervention by SMC staff to advise you about your next steps for isolation and when you may safely return to campus. Health Services staff may contact the student for routine check-ins whether the student is isolating on or off campus.
Yes. Here is what the CDC says about a negative test result: “If you test negative for COVID-19 by a viral test, you probably were not infected at the time your sample was collected. However, that does not mean you will not get sick. The test result only means that you did not have COVID-19 at the time of testing. You might test negative if the sample was collected early in your infection and test positive later during your illness. You could also be exposed to COVID-19 after the test and get infected then.”
This is why all students must still follow the 5 Simple Rules even while being tested weekly: a negative test one week may become a positive test the next week. Following the 5 Simple Rules will help you protect others in case you have become infected and don’t know it.
If you do not wish to participate in weekly testing, you may take all of your SMC courses online while living off-campus. To change your status to 100% online for Fall 2020 only, please contact your PAC advisor. To change your status from “resident” to “commuter,” read and follow these instructions.
One the pandemic is over or spread becomes less prevalent in our community, you may easily return to on-campus classes once testing is no longer required.