By WECT Staff | February 3, 2021 at 9:22 AM EST – Updated February 3 at 7:29 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – The University of North Carolina Wilmington is launching a new testing program requiring students to be tested either weekly, or every other week, depending on the students living situation.
“On Feb. 8, UNCW will launch a COVID-19 surveillance testing program to supplement the robust health and safety measures already in place on campus to reduce the spread of the virus. The 3Ws, the physical spacing of furniture in campus buildings, limits on the size of gatherings, and extensive campus cleaning regimens will remain in place for the foreseeable future,” according to an email from the school.
Administrators estimate they will administer 6,500 tests a week under the new protocol.
Residential students will be tested weekly by appointment. Off-campus students taking in-person courses and/or courses with an in-person component (hybrid) will be tested every other week. The tests must be performed on campus at the asymptomatic testing locations. Faculty, staff, and other contractors working on the school’s campus are being encouraged to participate in the testing but it is not required.
The school will be using a rapid antigen test which typically take less than five minutes for a result. Those who test negative will not be contacted, however, positive results will get a call from the Student Health Center. The tests are free for those being tested.
Students who fail to comply will be referred to the dean of students office for possible violation of the code of student conduct.
Despite the university’s efforts to protect the campus and the community, not everyone is on board with the new protocol. Student Molly Hampton says the new testing approach is more involved then the random surveillance testing she anticipated when returning to campus.
“To me personally, it feels like I don’t have a choice in doing this and I don’t like that. I already had to comply to come back to school– which is necessary, right because nobody knows what you did over break and who you were around. So I did that, but the fact that I stay in my room and we’re all careful and we’re all doing what we’re supposed to be doing on campus: wearing our masks and staying 6 feet apart and everything, and then having to do this without a choice because I could get written up by the Dean makes me feel like this is not something I can choose to do, that I have to do this,” said student Molly Hampton.
The university though has a philosophy behind the practice and officials believe this level of testing will be a motivating force for safety to the student body.
“If i know that i’m gonna be tested every week, that might be an additional reminder to be especially careful to do the 3w’s. Every little piece that we do adds up together for a good safety plan,” said Katrin Wesner-Harts, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “We’re doing this just to make campus as safe as possible. We want the semester to end well, we want people to be able to finish their classes and have a successful spring and anything that we can do to allow us to complete spring semester.”
Testing begins Monday and will be conducted five days a week at the Warwick Center and Mac Gym in the Student Recreation Center. Members of the campus community can begin making appointments starting on Friday.
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