Expanded Options for Testing
As we move into the semester, we are transitioning from arrival testing to our proactive community testing strategy—sometimes referred to as surveillance testing, pooled testing, or batch testing. We will continue to refine, improve, and expand our testing efforts, because they are a critical component of safe and healthy campus life.
Working in collaboration with local public-health services, we are expanding our proactive community testing for asymptomatic individuals. We will also continue to test for individuals who feel ill and conduct contact tracing if and when there are positive cases. Our goal is to make testing as accessible as possible for our students.
Rapid Testing Clinic for Students
Beginning in January, most students will participate in rapid testing using a self-swabbed COVID-19 test that provides results within 15 minutes. Tests will be proctored in the new Spring 2021 student-testing center, located in the Chris Knutsen (CK) Hall in the Anderson University Center.
To continue to keep our community safe and healthy, we’re asking all students who have any reason to be on campus to remain vigilant about COVID-19 protocols, including fully participating in the testing calendar associated with your particular role (e.g., residential student, student-athlete, student employee, students in an in-person or blended class).
Students returning for J-Term have received or will receive this information from Residential Life, their coaches, their clinical instructors, their supervisors, or the PLU Testing Team. Students who have returned to campus already have participated in at least one round of rapid testing to this point and are quickly becoming experts in the process.
Students who are not associated with a particular role and specific testing calendar also should expect to periodically be asked to participate in proactive community testing that will continue to be hosted on the PLU campus beginning with the first testing date on January 20.
Proactive Community Testing
Proactive community testing is a critical aspect of our community-health strategy. It will help us monitor and respond to any spread of infection within the campus community, within specific campus populations, and in areas identified as being at higher risk based on real-time feedback from our testing team.
More information will be emailed to you by the PLU testing team if you are requested to participate in a scheduled testing date.
We plan to test up to 250-500 community members every two weeks using a strategic, science-based approach for sampling. The university will identify and reach out to individuals and groups to participate. Participating in testing will be required at various times for all students coming to campus this fall, including:
- Residential students
- Students living off-campus who will be coming to campus for any reason
Additionally, we will offer to test for faculty members who are teaching courses with in-person elements, and for critical infrastructure workers who work in residence halls, mail services, dining services, and other positions with a high likelihood of in-person engagement with campus community members.
Proactive community testing is done at no cost to the individuals being tested, who will also be notified directly if they test positive. This type of testing does not require quarantine, either before or after testing.
Testing for individuals who feel ill
Feeling ill? Individuals who might have signs or symptoms consistent with COVID-19 are required to test and self-isolate. It can feel scary to be sick right now—but if you feel ill, let’s make sure you are well cared for!
- If you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you can consult and schedule a test with the PLU Health Center. We will have the capacity to test symptomatic students on weekdays and will assist in identifying testing locations on the weekends. Also, LuteTelehealth—PLU’s 24/7/365 medical and mental healthcare phone and video telehealth service—is available for ongoing support and coordination of care.
- If you test positive for COVID-19 at a testing facility that is not coordinated by PLU, you should share this information with the Health Center for any follow-up that may be required for you and for other members of the PLU community. Confidentiality will be maintained.
Faculty or staff:
- If you are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you should test with the healthcare provider of your choice.
- If you have symptoms or if you are being tested for COVID-19, you should report that result to your supervisor.
Close contact tracing (exposed individuals)
The PLU Health Center will be responsible for the initiation of contact tracing for all positive cases that are tested at the Health Center or through Proactive Community Testing events on campus. PLU will inform the Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department of all positive cases, and the TPCHD will continue to conduct county-required close contact tracing for these university community members. Contact tracing helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by identifying individuals who have been in close contact with those who test positive for the virus, and requiring that they quarantine and get tested. The TPCHD has a robust team of experienced contact tracers on hand to identify and test close contacts in a timely manner. If you’ve been identified as a close contact, you will be notified and advised of next steps, including the possibility of a self-quarantine period.
Our success as a university begins and ends with the health of our community. This work continues with robust and rigorous proactive community testing, but also includes our individual actions as community members like wearing face masks, participating in daily Wellness Check-Ins, following proper hand hygiene, and social distancing. Our most effective approach to mitigation and keeping our community well involves purposeful, consistent use to all of these preventative measures by all community members.