Testing is crucial to reopening campuses in fall 2020

'Our plan is to test, trace and treat,' University of Arizona president says
By: | May 4, 2020
University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins gets blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test at an event where he also announced in-person classes would resume on Aug. 24.University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins gets blood drawn for a coronavirus antibody test at an event where he also announced in-person classes would resume on Aug. 24.

Coronavirus testing, antibody testing, contact tracing and isolating those who fall ill are all key parts of the fall 2020 plans at colleges and universities determined to open.

University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins plans to resume in-person classes on Aug. 24 and says that all students, faculty and staff will be tested for COVID-19.

He made the announcement while having his blood drawn during a statewide antibody testing initiative the university has launched with the state of Arizona.

“Our plan is to test, trace and treat to present our campus community a flexible and adaptive teaching and learning environment,” Robbins says. “There are many factors that remain beyond our control. However, we are tackling what is within our control to ensure our students have the opportunity for a full on-campus experience.”

The University of Kentucky is now making plans for testing and treatment as the state has eased restrictions to allow the school’s medical center to resume more operations.

The university is now establishing a program for testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation as a keys to its plans to reopen the campus, says Eric Monday, the executive vice president for finance and administration.


More from UBProtecting a university’s ‘heart and soul’ when reopening in fall 2020


It all also determining what level of social distancing in needed to keep students healthy in classrooms, residence halls and dining halls.

The University of Arizona launched a statewide coronavirus antibody testing initiative with the state of Arizona this week.

The University of Arizona launched a statewide coronavirus antibody testing initiative with the state of Arizona this week.

Staff are now working to make sure the university will have enough face masks, sanitary wipes and other protective equipment.

“There are a number of partner universities were interacting with in China to understand how they began to restart their operations,” Monday says.

Coronavirus testing on small campuses, too

Smaller campuses are also focusing on health as the fall semester approaches.

Sweet Briar College in Virginia will offer single dorms to students and test for COVID-19, President Meredith Woo said in a statement.

“We may be one of the rare colleges in America that can reasonably enforce social distancing,” Woo said. “We will most scrupulously meet social distancing requirements. We are putting extensive plans in place for resumption of residential life, dining services and in-person instruction in a safe and responsible manner.”


More from UB: CARES Act offers billions to aid college students


The college’s small class sizes will allow students to spread out, but Sweet Briar will also offer hybrid and remote classes.

Dining services will provide a combination of prepared and served items.

“Social distancing is a requirement that will be with us for a long time, and we will endeavor to be an example of how best to conduct fine education in the most healthful way possible,” Woo said.


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