Supplemental & Antigen Testing

If you are not experiencing any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, Cornell offers two ways to be tested: supplemental testing and antigen test kits.

  • Supplemental testing is offered at testing sites across campus and offers a way for students, faculty and staff to access PCR testing on an as-needed basis. Supplemental testing requires scheduling an appointment in advance as walk-ins are not allowed.
  • Antigen test kits are provided free of charge at any testing site and may be used at home. If the result is positive, you should report the result through the Daily Check.

Supplemental Testing

Supplemental testing should not be used by anyone experiencing symptoms, or by unvaccinated individuals who are concerned they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. In these cases, students should seek testing from Cornell Health; faculty and staff should seek testing from a Cayuga Health System location or seek a rapid antigen test. Fully vaccinated, asymptomatic individuals who are concerned they may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 may use supplemental testing.

Supplemental testing requires scheduling an appointment in advance as walk-ins are not allowed. To make an appointment, log into the Daily Check portal and click on the “Schedule A Supplemental Test” button. Appointments become available at 4 p.m. for the following day.

All PCR testing sites operate under the same protocol for supervised self-collection of anterior nares (front of the nostril) samples. Anterior nares sampling is a simple, noninvasive nasal swab. Samples will be sent to the Cornell COVID-19 Testing Laboratory for processing. Watch this short video to familiar yourself with the sampling process beforehand.

Preparing for Your PCR Test

  1. Be punctual for your appointment to keep lines moving; walk-ins are not allowed.
  2. Bring photo identification and plan 15 to 20 minutes to complete your appointment.
  3. Follow the steps outlined in the video below.
  4. Continue your normal activities (with strict adherence to mask wearing and social distancing).
  5. You will only be contacted if evidence of COVID-19 is detected from your sample, in which case the Tompkins County Health Department will contact you. Please be sure to answer calls from a 607 area code, even if the caller is not listed in your contacts; it may be the health department calling with important information.

Antigen test kits

For your convenience, COVID-19 antigen test kits are available to any asymptomatic student, staff or faculty member at any of Cornell’s test sites. Antigen-based testing, while somewhat less sensitive than PCR, has the advantage of speed – it shortens the time to detect and notify a positive from days to minutes.

Asymptomatic students who previously tested positive with COVID-19 and are currently in their 90-day recovery window, are eligible to pick up antigen kits. If the result is positive, you should report the result through the Daily Check.

Bulk requests for antigen test kits

Group organizers may request a bulk quantity of antigen kits by submitting a request to the COVID-19 Support Center. Note that antigen kits are only available to staff, faculty and students and they may not be requested for or distributed to guests or visitors; a valid NetID is required. Group organizers must provide the following information to request a bulk order of kits:

  • Requestor Name and NetID (this must be the same person who picks up the kits)
  • Group/Activity Name
  • Date of Event/Activity
  • Number of kits requested
  • Description of the attendees/audience

Once submitted, the requestor will receive an authorization email from the COVID-19 Support Center detailing pickup instructions.

Self-Report a Positive Test Result

If you have tested positive for COVID-19 outside of the region, through a home antigen test, or any other non-Cornell or Cayuga Medical Center testing within the past 90 days, report your result in the Daily Check under the “Self-Reported Positive” heading. This information is critical for Cornell, as it may exempt you from testing.

For assistance with testing, visit the COVID-19 Support Center.