UNC Charlotte's spring 2021 random mitigation testing initiative will begin this week and continue throughout the semester for those living on campus or involved in in-person classes.
According to Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development Dr. Rick Tankersley, roughly 8,000 community members will be returning to campus to resume in-person instruction. These faculty and students will participate in Phase 2 of re-entry testing from Feb. 17-22. Then, Phase 2 participants will begin mitigation testing this week.
"I think in general, what I would say is we are building upon the successes of last fall and continuing the components of what we were doing then that were highly successful and expanding upon those," Tankersley announced to student government members in a meeting on Feb. 4.
The University will continue similar protocols from the fall, such as testing faculty and students, triweekly wastewater testing and contact tracing. The main difference for COVID-19 testing this spring 2021 semester is the implementation of re-entry testing and an expansion of the mitigation testing to all students and faculty members participating in face-to-face instruction and living in the residence halls.
Community members who qualified for re-entry testing could be randomly selected throughout the semester for testing.
"We have this population of students and faculty who are going to be required to get testing; there will be a subset of that group that will be sampled every week," Tankersley explained to SGA members. "Every week, on Wednesday, there will be an email that goes out to a subset of that group indicating they are the lucky winners of a COVID test."
The email consists of the assigned testing date for the following week and instructions on how and where to get tested. Participants will then be removed from the pool during the week they are getting tested; however, they can be selected the next week again for testing.
Exceptions are granted for participants who can't participate in random mitigation testing due to religious or medical purposes. An exception for a positive COVID-19 test is only valid for 90 days from the date the participant was tested.
"Because we're sampling a portion of the population, all of which have no symptoms, it also allows us to identify people who are asymptomatic but are still able to transmit the virus and with that we can then do our contact tracing," Tankersley said.
Some faculty and students could potentially be tested multiple times while others might never be selected to get tested. Random mitigation is all based upon probability.
As the members await their test results, social distancing protocols should be followed, and Niner Health Checks should still be completed. One should select "Mitigation or Re-Entry Testing" as the reason one is awaiting a COVID-19 test.
If the test comes back positive, the individual should follow CDC guidelines. For residents, the University has housing available for those who test positive. The University's contact tracing team will work with those who test positive to notify close contacts to begin a quarantine period recommended by the CDC.