‘That’s just a recipe for disaster’: Local colleges, universities plan for COVID-19 screening, testing

Before students return to campus this fall, colleges and universities across Virginia are working out how to screen for COVID-19 and continue to test throughout the year.

On Thursday, Randolph College announced all classes for the fall semester will be online only.

President Brad Bateman said that the school had to make the decision because of the lack of testing options for anyone who may be asymptomatic.

“We’ve have responsibilities to the students, to the faculty, to the staff. We’ve also got responsiblity to Lynchburg,” said Bateman. “If somebody gets COVID, you’ve got to wait until they’ve got two or three symptoms before you can get a test for them and then you’ve got to wait seven or eight days to get the test back. That means the person has been spreading, if they’re sick, they’ve been spreading for two to three weeks by that point and that’s just a recipe for disaster.”

Other universities are still on course for in-person instruction with extra precautions.

Hollins University is planning self-health screenings before arrival, delaying students’ return to campus if they’re symptomatic, extending the number of move-in days to increase social distancing and testing all symptomatic students.

In a statement, a university spokesperson told 10 News that Carilion Clinic manages and staffs the Student Health and Counseling Center who “will be handling all symptomatic testing for students and maintaining testing supplies and equipment. The VA Department of Health will be responsible for contact tracing and any further testing resulting from that process.”

Virginia Tech is planning initial and ongoing COVID-19 screenings for students and employees through daily health surveys and testing.

All students are asked to self-quarantine and wear a face covering for 14 days before arriving on campus.

The 9,000 students living on campus can get tested on move-in days through the on-campus health care center.

All students who live both on and off campus are strongly encouraged to get a COVID-19 test within five days before returning to school.

According to Radford University’s plan, student-athletes, resident assistants and students returning from hot spots are expected to be tested. Everyone else is asked to monitor symptoms daily for two weeks before moving in.

According to Liberty University’s plan, students will not be tested upon arrival. All students will complete an electronic pre-screening questionnaire.

The University of Lynchburg won’t be able to test all 4,000 students and staff upon return, but is requiring daily symptom monitoring.

“It wasn’t realistic to think that we could get adequate testing for the entire population, so we are not doing that,” said Michael Jones, the vice president of Communications and Marketing for the University of Lynchburg.” We are hoping that, and urging students to do all the right things before they come back to campus.”

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