Universities roll out COVID testing as they reopen

Universities systems in Alabama and Maine ready to test large numbers of students
By: | June 30, 2020
Colleges and universities rolling out coronavirus testing plans are on particular alert for asymptomatic carriers spreading COVID-19.Colleges and universities rolling out coronavirus testing plans are on particular alert for asymptomatic carriers spreading COVID-19.

Student coronavirus screenings that will help Alabama’s public colleges and universities reopen their campuses will be funded by the $30 million in CARES Act assistance the state’s governor has earmarked for statewide COVID testing.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is one of the agencies leading the testing program that aims for early identification of potential COVID hotspots.

“Our ability to test every student returning to campus will go a long way in helping us maintain a safe environment,” UAB President Ray L. Watts said in a statement.

UAB is also developing a COVID-19 notification app called “Stay Safe Together” that lets users log their health status.


More from UB: UC San Diego plans to snuff an outbreak before it starts


The app will also send anonymous alerts if users ave been in proximity to someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

The app will likely be available to colleges, universities and K-12 schools.

The University System of Maine also plans to test thousands of students at each of its campuses.

“We can take important, scientifically-proven steps to protect ourselves and prepare our universities to be as safe as possible,” assistant professor of microbiology Melissa Maginnis, a virologist who leads the system’s Scientific Advisory Board, said in a statement. “Proactively identifying infected, asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus and isolating them while they are contagious is an important part of our university community health strategy.”

This spring, the University of California San Diego piloted its campus coronavirus screening initiative by testing more than 1,500 students—without a single person testing positive.

University leaders now believe it’s feasible to test the entire campus community each month.

“Our models indicate we need to be able to routinely test a large proportion of the campus community to detect an outbreak at an early stage,” project lead Natasha Martin, an associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego School of Medicine, said in a statement.


UB’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on higher ed.