JMU begins surveillance COVID-19 testing

JMU begins surveillance COVID-19 testing
(Source: WHSV)

HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - After students returned to campus on Monday, the university started surveillance COVID-19 testing in an effort to stop the spread and prevent an outbreak at residence halls.

Each week for the rest of the semester, 300 students living on campus will be selected at random to be tested for the coronavirus.

According to the university’s website, surveillance testing provides a way to test groups of individuals who are assumed to be healthy in order to make predictions on how an illness will spread in a population.

Caitlyn Read, the spokesperson for the university, said for now the random testing will only involve students living on campus.

“We are focused on our on-campus population, given the density of the residence halls,” Read said. “So every week we will test a portion of each residence hall’s residents to make sure we get ahead of any outbreak in the dorms through surveillance testing.”

Students were required to agree to the testing before coming back to campus, but Read said there are some exemptions on a case-by-case basis including if a student already tested positive.

Read said so far being back, there have been a handful of cases compared to the university’s peak earlier this fall. She said students should still take the university’s COVID-19 policies seriously after many students were reported to have violated them in August and September.

“Our sanctions go from disciplinary probation all the way up until expulsion or suspension,” Read said. “We have suspended at least two students as of right now for violating this agreement, so it is something that we take very seriously.”

Students who are asked to be tested should be notified via email.

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