Penn State To Begin Coronavirus Surveillance Testing August 24

Penn State will begin its random coronavirus surveillance testing on Monday, August 24, the university announced Friday.

Select students will start receiving texts and emails as soon as Friday afternoon to alert them that they’ve been selected for the program. Messages will include screening questions and give students the opportunity to schedule a testing time that fits their schedule. If selected, students should plan to undergo testing within 48 to 72 hours of being notified.

Testing locations include the Bryce Jordan Center, Eisenhower Auditorium, Greenberg Complex, Willard Building, and Biobehavioral Health Building. The university said more specific information regarding these locations will be revealed in the coming days.

The university plans to randomly test 1% of its population of students, faculty, and staff across all campuses each day throughout the fall semester. Individuals may be selected more than once throughout the semester. Noncompliant students will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and could receive disciplinary action, potentially including suspension or expulsion.

“COVID-19 surveillance is a necessary and critical part of our strategy designed to keep our community healthy and to watch for signs of the virus on our campuses,” said Kelly Wolgast, the director of Penn State’s COVID-19 Operations Control Center. “One hundred percent participation is important as we seek to mitigate the spread of the virus.”

Testing results will be aggregated and displayed on the university’s new COVID-19 Dashboard, as well as reported to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Those who test positive will then enter the university’s contact tracing and isolation programs.

“Conducting asymptomatic surveillance provides us with the opportunity to detect cases in people who may not feel ill, which is a critical step to reduce the spread of disease,” Cara Exten, an assistant professor of nursing leading the surveillance effort, said. “The program will allow us to have a more complete understanding of the rates of infection in our community, which will ultimately enable us to respond more effectively.”   

Penn State also provided a step-by-step guide on how individuals are to proceed after they’ve been selected for testing:

  • Students and employees who are selected will receive an email and a text message from “PSU COVID Surveillance Program” to their Penn State email address, secondary email address on file and cell phone on file.
  • Using the link provided in the email/text message, individuals should answer a few screening questions and schedule an appointment date, time and location from the options provided. (If testing for your campus will happen via a delivered test kit or another method, please follow the instructions provided to you.)
  • Once scheduled, students and employees will receive an appointment confirmation via email and text message, along with two reminder notifications. If necessary, students and employees can reschedule an appointment using the link in their email/text message.
  • On appointment day, students and employees should arrive at the collection site on time, bring their Penn State ID and wear a face mask. For those who arrive on time, the process is expected to take about 15 minutes.
  • After checking in at the collection location, students and employees will complete the process with help from staff who will provide instructions for collecting the sample.

You can find more information about Penn State’s surveillance testing, including frequently asked questions, on its website.

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About the Author

Ryan Parsons

Ryan is a redshirt senior majoring in business and journalism from "Philadelphia" and mostly writes about football nowadays. You can follow him on Twitter @rjparsons9 or say hi via email at [email protected].

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