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Expanded proactive community testing

Posted by:
September 17, 2020

To: PLU Community
From: President’s Office

Dear PLU Community,

Following our fourth week of testing—including large scale testing last week—we have had one positive case out of more than 1400 tests administered for returning students and some frontline faculty and staff. (We wish our Lute family member a speedy and uncomplicated recovery!)

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, faculty, and staff.

Expanded 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.

Testing dates:

September 29

October 14 & 27

November 10 & 24

December 9 & 22

Testing times: 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Location: Behind the Columbia Center

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:

  • Student-athletes
  • Residential students
  • Students living off campus who will be coming to campus for any reason

Additionally, we will offer testing 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 a student 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 are a student who tests 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.
  • If you are a faculty or staff member who is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, you should test with the healthcare provider of your choice.If you are a faculty or staff member who has symptoms or is being tested for COVID-19, you should report that result to your supervisor.

Close contact tracing (exposed individuals)
The Tacoma–Pierce County Health Department will continue to conduct close contact tracing for university community members who test positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing helps slow the spread of COVID-19 by identifying individuals who have been in close contact with those who test positive, and requiring that they quarantine and also 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.

Shields up, Lutes!

Allan Belton