As a way to keep students, faculty and staff healthy and safe throughout the fall 2020 semester, Quinnipiac University is requiring students to partake in COVID-19 testing before arriving on campus, upon returning to campus and throughout the fall semester. Students must also follow other protocols while on campus.
Quinnipiac has contracted with Rutgers University’s Infinite Biologics to administer pre-arrival saliva-based tests to help with “relieving families of any burden of having to identify, schedule or travel for a COVID-19 test,” according to an email sent by David Hill, Quinnipiac’s senior medical advisor and a member of the COVID-19 task force, to students on Aug. 6.
“We need a service that we can rely upon, one has the capacity to do the volume of testing that we need and that is not trying to meet the needs of national testing requirements so it is focused on university communities,” Hill said at the parents’ webinar on July 28. “With Rutgers, we can time the test close to a student’s arrival on campus and the test will be done in a timely fashion so we can get the results within a few days.”
All undergraduate and graduate students, except those who are enrolled in online programs, students studying 100% remotely or students in the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, will be required to take a PCR test before returning to campus. Students in the medical school will be using a separate testing protocol.
Students who are required to take the pre-test will receive an email from Quinnipiac that will have a link to a code to begin the process. Students will then provide all necessary information, including the address where the test should be sent. Once this process is initiated, the testing kit will be sent within two days.
“After students receive the test kit, they will collect their saliva sample and send the kit back to the testing facility,” Hill said at the parents’ webinar. “This process will also assure that the correct test for COVID-19, a PCR test, has been done.”
The test costs $130.22 and will be assessed to the student’s Bursar account.
“We recommend you contact your health plan about the terms and conditions of your insurance coverage, and whether you may be reimbursed for this cost,” Hill wrote in the email.
Students may seek their own pre-arrival test instead of using the Rutgers’ Test if a student can provide a negative result following Quinnipiac’s requirements — a PCR test taken within six days of arrival to campus.
“Be sure, if you do take an alternative test, that you will have access to the test that we’re asking for and also get the results because you will need negative results to be admitted back to campus,” President Judy Olian said at the student town hall on Aug. 6.
Testing results will be available between 24 and 72 hours of receipt of the saliva sample. Both the students and Quinnipiac Student Health Services will be notified. If positive, students must stay home or where they are. Quinnipiac Health Services will follow up with the student to discuss a plan of return.
Arriving to campus
Students who are from the 36 states on the travel advisory list must quarantine upon their return to campus for 14 days before they can participate in any on-ground activities on campus.
Quinnipiac has approximately 400 students returning to campus from the 36 states and these students were sent information on Aug. 6, about protocols they must follow when returning to campus, according to Hill.
“We’re asking students from these hot-spot states to return the weekend of Aug. 15 and Aug. 16,” Hill said at the town hall. “Returning upperclass students will move into their original housing assignment. First-year students will quarantine in our designated quarantine housing.”
Quarantine and isolation housing will be on the Mount Carmel Campus in the Complex residence halls (Bakke, Sahlin and Founders) and some spaces in the Village, according to Monique Drucker, the vice president and dean of students.
First-year students will be doubled up with another first-year student in quarantine housing, as both students are coming from hot-spot states.
Students from these states also have the option to live with a friend or relative in a state not on the travel advisory list or in Connecticut for 14 days prior to arriving on campus.
For on-campus testing, Quinnipiac has partnered with Broad Institute, which is a genomic research center in Massachusetts. The cost of on-campus testing will be covered by the university.
Shortly after arriving on campus, all students will be tested using a non-invasive nasal swab.
“Students are expected to limit their activities and movement outside their living quarters until confirmation of a negative test result from this return testing,” Hill said at the parents’ webinar.
The results of the return test will be available within 24 hours.
Ongoing testing will be taking place weekly throughout the fall semester, 15% of all residential and non-residential undergraduate students will be tested each week.
“This sampling strategy is based upon scientific guidelines that will aid in the early detection of asymptomatic or presymptomatic infections,” Hill said at the parents’ webinar.
Rapid testing will also be offered at Quinnipiac Student Health Services for students who feel ill or have been exposed to a person with COVID-19. Rapid testing will offer results within an hour.
Quinnipiac is requiring all students, faculty and staff to conduct a self-guided daily health check to monitor for COVID-19 related symptoms.
“We’ve developed an easy-to-use mobile symptom checking app for everyone to register how they’re feeling each day,” Olian said at the town hall.
By using the new mobile app, it will be easy for students, faculty and staff to perform early symptom checks on their own mobile device.
“The symptom checking app will give us an early detection symptom to help identify positive COVID-19 cases that will keep ill students and faculty and staff out of the classroom or on our campus and we’ll direct them to appropriate healthcare resources, such as student health services for our student population,” Hill said at the parents’ webinar.
The link to the app will be sent to students during the second half of August so they can download it before returning to campus.
While these guidelines and protocols can change daily due to the circumstances of COVID-19, Olian urges students to be patient during this time.
“Hard work has gone into all of this preparation,” Olian said at the town hall. “… You’ll have to be flexible, this is a fluid environment where some guidelines and recommendations can change daily so please be patient, understanding. You’ve always been kind to each other and we will navigate this together.”