The Daily Gamecock

USC announces Spring 2021 mandatory COVID-19 testing plan

<p>A sign marks the check-in area for COVID-19 testing on Davis Field.&nbsp;</p>
A sign marks the check-in area for COVID-19 testing on Davis Field. 

Students who are registered for face-to-face or hybrid classes or plan to use on-campus resources will be required to take a coronavirus test prior to returning to campus and once every 30 days during the semester, according to an email from university President Bob Caslen on Monday.

Students living on-campus or in university-leased housing, such as 650 Lincoln, Park Place, Greek Village, Greene Crossing and YOUnion, must be tested as well before returning to campus in January. 

All on-campus faculty and staff will also be required to be tested. On-campus resources that will require students to be tested include the Thomas Cooper Library and Russell House.

Similar to fall 2020, tests can either be conducted through the university’s free testing services or results can be uploaded to the MyHealthSpace portal.

Acceptable proof of testing comes in several forms: a negative nasal, saliva or antigen test result from between Jan. 3 and Jan. 10 or between Jan. 3 and move-in day for students living on campus; a positive nasal, saliva or antigen test result from between Oct. 5 and Dec. 20; or a positive antibody test result from after Oct. 5.

During a press conference Monday, senior associate vice president for Student Affairs and Academic Support Stacey Bradley called the implementation of mandatory testing through the spring semester "the expansion" of mandatory tests for returning students to campus this fall.

"Since we have the capacity to do it, and we are seeing those cases rise nationally, it really is an opportunity and, in a sense, an obligation for us, and then knowing that we want our students to stay here and we want our students to remain engaged in person as much as they possibly can. That was one resource that we could use, coupled with others, to really make that possible," Bradley said.

According to executive director of Student Health Services Deborah Beck, the College of Pharmacy has purchased "additional equipment" and extended partnerships with Nephron Pharmaceuticals to uphold testing capacity. 

"Through our partners, we believe that we have the capacity not only on our campus to significantly meet the needs of our students, faculty and staff, but we also have our partners that we're working with. So we do feel confident we will be able to meet that demand," Beck said.

During the spring 2021 semester, students will receive an email or text message one Sunday per month instructing them to be tested during the following Monday through Thursday period.

If students do not get tested during this period, they will be subject to “university sanctions,” according to the university’s website. Bradley said a proposal regarding these sanctions would appear before the board of trustees during its Dec. 15 meeting.

Beck said the continued sharing of information from the university would promote people to get tested. 

"We're sending students emails, we're sending letters to parents, and we will continue to do that communication through all multimedias. It will be on the social media, whether it's Facebook, Instagram or the other methods that students are commonly using right now," Beck said.

A similar program will be applied to faculty and staff. Faculty and staff will receive a notification one Sunday per month instructing them to be tested during the following Monday through Friday period. 

To be exempted from monthly testing, positive results from a nasal, saliva, antigen or antibody test must be provided. Provided test results cannot be from more than 90 days before a person’s Sunday selection. 

The decision to implement mandatory monthly testing comes "during a significant rise in COVID-19 cases nationally and within South Carolina," according to an email from university spokesperson Jeff Stensland. 

Free, on-campus testing will be available daily from Jan. 4 through Jan. 15 and Monday through Friday from Jan. 18 until the end of the spring 2021 semester.

This article was updated at 4:23 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2020.


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