EAU CLAIRE — UW-Eau Claire will begin testing all students in its residence halls for COVID-19 this week, using antigen tests that can produce a result in minutes, the university said in a news release Wednesday.

Students will be tested even if they’re asymptomatic, said Jodi Thesing-Ritter, executive director of equity, diversity and inclusion, in the news release.

Testing began Tuesday for about 3,900 students in the 11 on-campus residence halls and at Aspenson Mogensen Hall, Haymarket Landing and Priory Hall, the university said.

Students who live in residence halls will be tested on a rotating schedule in the fall semester, Thesing-Ritter said. Testing will be free for students and will identify cases quickly so students can be isolated.

Students living in residence halls will get an email sent to their campus account inviting them to schedule an appointment at McPhee Physical Education Center 210C, 509 University Dr., which the university is using as a testing clinic, the university said.

Asymptomatic students will get a rapid-diagnostic antigen test, a much faster but slightly less accurate test than the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, according to the Food and Drug Administration. (Both types of tests involve a nasal or throat swab, and both are able to diagnose an active coronavirus infection.)

Antigen and PCR tests are different than antibody tests, which involve a blood draw and can show if someone has been infected with the coronavirus in the past, according to the FDA.

Only UW-Eau Claire students without symptoms will get an antigen test. Students with symptoms should go to the Student Health Service for a more accurate PCR test, the university said.

If an asymptomatic student’s antigen test comes back positive, they will be sent to Student Health Service for a PCR test, the university said.

UW-Eau Claire received 5,300 antigen tests from the UW System, which ordered more than 315,000 antigen tests for its universities, according to the news release. UW-Eau Claire will receive additional test kits as needed.

Sarah Seifert is the Leader-Telegram's education and health reporter. She's worked as a journalist in the Chippewa Valley since 2017 and joined the L-T in 2019. Get in touch at sarah.seifert@ecpc.com or on Twitter at @sarahaseifert.