New COVID-19 testing protocols to be enforced in spring 2021

Megan McSweeney Reporter

Students returning to campus in the spring and new health and safety measures dominated the Board of Trustees’ discussion at their meeting Tuesday.

University President Todd Diacon opened the presentation by discussing the fall semester, including how testing was handled and how many students had to quarantine on campus. 

At its peak, 138 students were in quarantine. At the beginning of the fall semester, testing was limited only to students showing symptoms. In October, asymptomatic testing became available to the university. The university administered 10,206 tests.

Manfred van Dulmen, interim associate provost, presented preventative safety measures that were effective during the fall that will continue to be used in spring. The Flashes Safe Seven will continue to be enforced, as well as promoting reduced numbers on campus.

Melissa Zullo, Ph.D., leader of the Prevention Task Force, spoke about what the task force expects for the spring semester.

Students living on campus during spring 2021 will be tested first when they move in and a week later in order to give potential exposure time to replicate in the body. They will be asked to quarantine until they get their results, which should be within 24 to 48 hours.

Students will then be regularly tested throughout the semester, which will be mandatory. All students will be tested twice a week in order to prevent outbreaks.

The task force recommends all Tier 2 courses, meaning the professor opts for in-person learning, start remote and switch to in-person on Feb. 1.

Random screening tests for students and staff involved in on-campus activities are also being implemented. The task force recommends mandatory testing for students who live off campus that come to campus for class or on campus jobs. The current testing capacity for this is 450 tests per week.

Diacon closed the presentation saying, “I am very proud of the seriousness with which our students took the Flashes Safe Seven protocols, and that has set us up for success in the spring semester.”

Megan McSweeney covers administration. Contact her at [email protected]

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