The University of Georgia will conduct 300 coronavirus tests per day on asymptomatic student, faculty and staff volunteers this fall as a part of a surveillance testing plan recommended by the Medical Oversight Task Force, according to a Wednesday ArchNews email.
The task force recommended a plan that requires 24,000 tests be conducted by Thanksgiving break. UGA will hire five staff members to carry out the program at an outdoor location. Testing will begin on Aug. 10, the first day of UGA’s Phase Three reopening plan.
Testing is free for all volunteers, which will include students living in dorms, off-campus housing and Greek life housing. Faculty and staff volunteers will be chosen from those who self-identify as being at a higher risk for COVID-19. The university still advises those with COVID-19 symptoms to schedule an appointment with the health center.
The University Health Center will conduct the sample, and the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab will perform the nasal swab test, according to the email. The lab was recently certified to conduct human coronavirus testing. Test results will be available within 48-72 hours and will be sent to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
UGA has invested $1.2 million for the testing plan.
To promote self-screening and contact tracing for COVID-19, UGA is launching the DawgCheck app with the help of the Enterprise Information Technology Service. A Qualtrics symptom survey will be available on DawgCheck in addition to the UGA app and website. Students, faculty and staff will be prompted to complete the form each weekday.
Anyone who receives a positive COVID-19 test will be required to record their results in the DawgCheck app, according to the email. The Student Care and Outreach team will be alerted of a positive student test, and members of the team will reach out to coordinate medical assistance, notify professors, deliver meals and arrange housing while in isolation, the email said.
Individuals reporting a positive COVID-19 test through DawgCheck will be asked to remember all possible contacts. The information will be shared securely with DPH to expedite contact tracing, according to the email.
A notification will also be sent to Facilities Management to disinfect specific areas. Classrooms will be designed for social distancing as well, a second ArchNews email detailed. Seats will be marked to accommodate for social distancing between students, and plastic guards for instructors have been set up around podiums.