Key Issues

CDC Issues Guidance for COVID-19 Testing by Higher Ed Institutions

June 30, 2020 (WASHINGTON INSIDER ALERT) -  On June 30, 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidance entitled “Interim Considerations for Institutions of Higher Education Administrators for SARS-CoV-2 Testing.”

The guidance describes situations where institutions of higher education (IHE) should consider conducting SARS-CoV-2 viral testing for students, faculty or staff. The agency notes, however, that "the ultimate determinations for such a test rest with IHEs in consultation with local health officials.”

The CDC emphasizes in the guidance that testing is “one component of a comprehensive strategy” institutions should employ to slow the spread of COVID-19. The agency also cautions that the testing guidance is meant to supplement — not replace — any federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and applicable laws enforced by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The CDC also notes that testing programs should be “guided by what is feasible, practical and acceptable, as well as tailored to the needs of each community,” and that testing "must be carried out in a way that protects individuals’ privacy and confidentiality.” Finally, the CDC notes that the guidance is based on current knowledge about COVID-19 and will be updated as additional information becomes available.