NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) – The University of Oklahoma’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program will now include a random selection of on-campus residential students.
The university is expanding the surveillance program as part of its comprehensive strategy to monitor and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to an OU news release.
University officials will send an email to approximately 25 percent of all students living in OU housing by Sept. 20. The email will have more information about the testing program expansion and a link to schedule a testing appointment.
Testing will be offered from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 21-24 in Cate Center 3, according to the news release.
“By testing a representative sample of students who are asymptomatic, we can better pinpoint the presence of the virus and limit its transmission,” said OU Chief COVID Officer Dr. Dale Bratzler. “Combined with our existing protocols, the expansion of our surveillance testing adds yet another layer to the university’s broad strategy to curb the spread of the virus.”
The testing offers a “self-administered, less invasive” anterior nasal swab test that collects specimens from the front of the nose, according to the news release.
“Students will be notified of their results within 24-48 hours, and students who receive a positive test will be provided guidance on isolation, contact tracing and instructional continuity,” the news release states.
The tests are free for students.
Students will not be expected to participate if they meet any of the following conditions:
- Previously tested positive through the saliva-based pre-arrival testing;
- Received a positive test at Goddard Health Services;
- Submitted the online COVID-19 screening form to Goddard Health Services following a positive test performed off-campus;
- Are currently in quarantine due to exposure.
University officials will potentially contact additional randomized groups of residential students after next week’s expanded surveillance testing window.
The voluntary testing that the university launched earlier this month, which is also offered in Cate Center 3, is still available at no charge to all residential students.
OU’s response to COVID-19 includes the following elements:
- Voluntary student testing program: Students living in OU housing who are not reporting symptoms of COVID-19 may participate in the voluntary testing program at Cate Center 3.
- Wastewater analysis: OU researchers are conducting regular sampling of wastewater from across campus to help identify areas experiencing higher levels of the virus.
- COVID-19 dashboard: OU launched an online dashboard, available at ou.edu/together/dashboard, to track COVID-19 testing data on the Norman campus – a community of more than 38,300 students, faculty and staff.
- Masking requirement: OU has subscribed to a university-wide masking policy, which applies to faculty, staff, students and campus visitors across all three campuses. Students and employees have been provided various types of face masks appropriate to their on-campus responsibilities.
- Chief COVID Officer: OU appointed Dr. Dale Bratzler, a nationally leading expert in infectious diseases and public health, to advise the university on its planning efforts with regard to the virus.
- COVID-19 testing requirement prior to move-in: OU required all students moving into on-campus housing to be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on campus.
- COVID-19 curbside testing: Any OU student, faculty or staff member may schedule a free COVID-19 test through OU Health Services.
- Social distancing: Classrooms, workspaces and common areas across campus have been configured to promote social distancing.
- Mandatory online health screening: All OU employees and students must complete the online screening form prior to returning to campus when certain scenarios apply.
- Enhanced cleaning: Through Clean and Green, OU’s campuses are meticulously cleaned to support the healthiest environment possible. Daily cleaning protocols have been enhanced, with particular emphasis on touch points and common areas.
- Facility upgrades: Touchless, motion-sensor fixtures have been installed in public restrooms, air filters have been upgraded to hospital-grade standards and more hand sanitizer stations have been installed across campus.
- Classroom and instructional modifications: OU’s goal is to provide in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible while promoting a safe and secure campus environment. To help accomplish this, class times have been extended throughout the day, and larger classes have been moved online.
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