Starting Monday, Vanderbilt University will require all students to be tested weekly for COVID-19, according to an email sent out Thursday morning by provost Susan Wente.
Students were all tested upon arriving to campus but were not told they’d be tested regularly.
“As we conducted universal early testing, we identified many asymptomatic positive students,” Wente says. “We are adapting plans to reflect this new information.”
Vanderbilt has published a dashboard showing new cases by week. The most recent week resulted in 16 new cases among students and four among faculty and staff. It’s unclear if the dashboard totals include positive cases found through the initial screening.
In a release to the media, Vanderbilt says it will be using the same saliva-based test kits that were used for students as they arrived. Vault Health will be processing the samples, with capacity of 1,000 a day.
The university says it will continue to aggressively trace contacts with positive cases and have them isolate. In her email, provost Wente offers immunity from campus rules about drug and alcohol use or violations of COVID-19 protocols when students talk to contact tracers.
“Students are expected to be forthcoming and honest,” she says. “A student who has not been honest with the contact tracers about relevant contacts will be subject to the Student Accountability process.”
Vanderbilt is not leaning on the large laboratories on campus, but other research institutions implementing mandatory testing regimes are conducting the tests in-house. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has developed its own saliva-based test and is screening students twice a week and processing 10,000 samples a day.
This story has been updated to add the company processing test samples.