Ohio University will require a selection of students to undergo asymptomatic testing through a partnership with CVS Health, and if students neglect to get tested, they could be barred from entering university buildings.
The university, in partnership with CVS Health, began to conduct a surveillance COVID-19 testing program in Athens beginning Sept. 21 to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus and monitor its prevalence, according to an OU press release.
Students that are chosen for asymptomatic testing will receive an email directing them to schedule and receive a test by CVS on campus, the OU release stated.
If directed and not tested in accordance with the email, students will lose access to all University buildings “and so will be unable to attend in person classes, labs, studios or any other activities,” the OU press release stated.
“Students on the Athens campus who will be invited to participate in the surveillance testing program starting Monday, Sept. 21 are required to do so. We will have a combination of random and wide net testing (testing people who have been around those who are positive),” OU spokesperson Carly Leatherwood told The Athens NEWS in an email statement. “This would include any student in Athens who is registered (although not all students will be tested).”
On-campus residential students that do not get tested will be subject to the terms of their Housing Contract, according to the university release. Leatherwood said in an email to The NEWS that students will be required to submit to COVID-19 testing — asymptomatic and/or symptomatic, as applicable — to live in residential housing at the university.
“This may include testing for any purpose as directed by a University official including but not limited to testing for surveillance, outbreak investigation, exposure, or close contact, etc. prior to receiving access to their assigned residence hall; periodic or regular testing to continue to be permitted to live in on campus housing; or testing to determine if you may return to your original residence hall if in quarantine or isolation,” Leatherwood said. “They may be removed from University housing if they violate the contractual agreement.”
Employees will be invited to participate in asymptomatic testing with a priority for individuals that have regular student contact. Leatherwood noted that although employees will not be required to take part in this testing, they are “highly encouraged” to do so.
Special Assistant to the President for Public Health Operations and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine faculty member Gillian Ice said in the OU release that conducting asymptomatic testing will provide the university “with the opportunity to detect cases in people who may not feel ill, which is a critical step to help stop the spread of disease.”
“The surveillance testing program will allow us to have a more complete understanding of the rates of infection in our community, which will ultimately enable us to respond more effectively,” Ice said.
CVS is reportedly using Abbott ID tests requiring a nasal swab, and the machines take 15 minutes to get the results, the university stated in its press release.
This new partnership between the university and CVS Health will add data to the university’s existing COVID-19 dashboard. Since the dashboard’s launch on Sept. 10, the dataset only included information gathered through the university’s partnership with OhioHealth.
Leatherwood noted that if a student receives a positive result through the CVS test, that student is required to complete the following action steps:
Call the Ohio University COVID-19 Hotline: 877-OU-COV19 (877-682-6819).
Submit an Ohio University COVID-19 Incident Report.
If living on-campus, notify the appropriate Resident Director immediately.
Prepare for a required conversation with the Athens City County Health Department. They will need to provide contract-tracers with the name and phone number of any close contacts, which are classified as any individual who came within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes in the 48 hours prior to testing.
According to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard, as of Friday afternoon, at least 282 students on OU’s Athens campus have tested for the virus. At least 110 of these results have come back positive. Out of the at least 24 reported tests for Athens campus employees, one has come back positive.