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Connecticut College has launched a robust COVID-19 testing program as the community prepares to welcome students back to campus for the first time since March. As part of the program, all students, as well as faculty and staff, who are on campus more than two days a week will be tested twice weekly. Faculty and staff who are on campus less than three days a week will be tested once a week.
The College is partnering with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to conduct the onboarding and surveillance testing. The Broad Institute has developed a specific PCR testing program for colleges and universities that provides results within 24 hours of receiving samples in their laboratory. The College set up a testing center in the athletic center and began testing faculty and staff last week. Students are being tested as they arrive this week.
“Our team has been working tirelessly to take the steps necessary to bring our community back to campus safely while delivering the highest quality educational experience,” said Dean of Students Victor Arcelus. “Our robust testing program—one of the most comprehensive in the country—is a key element of our plan. We are fortunate to be partnered with the Broad Institute, we are excited to be welcoming students back to campus and we are looking forward to a healthy fall.”
In addition to on-campus testing, students were asked to quarantine at home for 14 days before arriving on campus, and be tested prior to arrival. Students with positive tests are being asked to stay home and recover. As students arrive on campus, they report immediately to the testing center, are tested, and then are participating in an onboarding quarantine until they receive two negative tests. Students traveling from states on Connecticut’s travel advisory list will quarantine for 14 days.
“The frequency of our testing protocol, which exceeds both state and CDC guidelines, is essential to mitigating the spread of the virus on campus,” said Senior Associate Dean of Student Life Sarah Cardwell. “The twice weekly testing will help identify people with COVID-19 before any symptoms emerge. Regular and frequent testing will enable the College to isolate anyone testing positive from the rest of the community and immediately initiate contact tracing to identify people who were in close contact with someone who tested positive.”
The testing program is part of Conn’s comprehensive health strategy, which is informed by guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control, State of Connecticut and the American College Health Association. The strategy also includes mask requirements, social distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning protocols and self-monitoring requirements, as well as contact tracing, isolation and quarantine plans. Students, faculty and staff are also required to sign the Camels Care Pledge, acknowledging their responsibility for their own health as well as the health and safety of the community.
The testing protocols and the College’s comprehensive health strategy were developed in partnership with a panel of alumni experts—including an emergency room doctor and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention professional—and with Keith Grant, the senior director of infection prevention at Hartford HealthCare (HHC), and Martha O’Brien, director of HHC’s Campus Care program. In July, the College announced a new partnership with Hartford HealthCare that offers students access to high-quality, comprehensive healthcare services across the HHC system.
Read more about students' return to campus in The Day.