COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The University of South Carolina will require students, faculty and staff to get tested for COVID-19 periodically during the spring semester.
Testing will be required at least once every 30 days for those who spend time on campus, officials announced Monday.
“We know that the vast majority of our students have done the right thing,” UofSC Senior Associate Vice President for Student Affairs and Academic Support Stacey Bradley said. “We’re just at the point where everyone needs to do their part through regular testing.”
University leaders say “testing is one of the best ways to reduce the spread of the virus” when used along with wearing masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene.
In a letter to students and other members of the campus community, UofSC President Bob Caslen said everyone must remain disciplined to help stop the spread.
“As a university, we’ve spent time this fall evaluating our actions, examining emerging national research and considering how we can improve our approach to Spring 2021,” Caslen wrote. “Through this process, the most important lesson we learned is that you are essential to any strategy we adopt. Whether it’s wearing a mask, physical distancing, washing your hands or getting tested for COVID-19 or COVID-19 antibodies, your disciplined efforts to keep yourself safe and healthy demonstrate your care for those around you and inform how we will live, learn and work together in 2021.”
“We believe that we have the capacity on our campus to significantly meet the needs of our students, faculty, and staff,” UofSC Executive Director for Student Health Services Deborah Beck said.
Officials said between saliva and nasal swab testing, they have done about 45-thousand tests since August 1st. However, the new policy will mean testing about 28,000 UofSC community members every month.
“Our college of pharmacy has been able to purchase additional equipment to increase our capacity, and we’ve expanded our partnership with nephron pharmaceuticals,” Beck said.
The university released the following details of the spring testing plan:
- All students, faculty and staff living, learning or working on the Columbia campus must show proof of testing prior to returning to campus. Return testing was required in the fall for those living in university housing, which includes residence halls, 650 Lincoln, Park Place, Greek Village, Greene Crossing and YOUnion. Off-campus students who are enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid class must also be tested prior to classes starting.
- Testing can include current COVID test results, evidence of a previous positive test or presence of COVID-19 antibodies.
- All students, faculty and staff who work on campus or are enrolled in at least one face-to-face or hybrid class must also participate in a required testing cycle of at least one test every 30 days. The university will assign a specific testing week each month and participants will have the flexibility to complete their test Monday through Thursday of their assigned week.
- Additional details, including dates for required return testing, can be found on the university’s COVID-19 testing site.
Bradley said the ultimate goal of these new measures is to keep students safe and on campus.
“We know that testing is one tool of a number of tools that will help us achieve our goal and (student’s) goals, and that’s in-person engagement, whether that’s classes, program services, activities, or whatever it may be on our campus,” Bradley said.
Officials say the university has conducted more than 45,000 free tests since Aug. 1.