Sept. 3 Message to Students: Next Steps for Campus COVID-19 Testing

To Our Students:

For those of you who are living and/or learning on campus this semester, thank you for your patience and cooperation with our testing program as you arrived.

With your help, we have nearly completed our plans for initial COVID-19 testing of undergraduates living and/or learning on campus, as well as of graduate and professional students with higher levels of interactions with undergraduates (for example, as teaching assistants in their in-person courses).

This process required extensive planning and collaboration among several university offices, and involved several individuals staffing testing tents for more than 14 days straight. Their dedication to the well-being of our campus community is extraordinary, and we are profoundly grateful.

Starting next week, our program will shift from screening to surveillance. In simplest terms, surveillance involves regular testing of random samples of students to identify potential COVID-19 infection trends. 

Our model, developed in consultation with public health experts, involves testing 300 students per week. The large majority will be undergraduates living and/or learning on campus, but graduate and professional students also will be among those in the random samples.

Students in a particular week’s sample will receive a message from University Health & Counseling Services notifying them that they need to come to the testing site—for now, the tents on Freiberger Field—on a specific weekday (typically a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday). 

Given that the selection process is random, we recognize that, in some instances, students may have valid reasons they cannot get to testing on a particular day. They will have an online opportunity to explain why they need to reschedule and, when appropriate, health services will work to accommodate them. 

To be clear, however, participation in this surveillance testing is required for those who wish to be able to continue to live and/or learn on campus. It is an essential aspect of our efforts to keep the campus healthy and well, just as we—and you—agreed as part of the Campus Commitment.

We will provide additional details prior to the first distribution of individual messages, but first wanted to provide this overview. 

Thank you again.

Lou Stark, Vice President for Student Affairs
Sara Lee, MD, Executive Director for University Health and Counseling Services