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Friday, October 15, 2021

What mandatory COVID-19 testing will look like for UF students

The plans for mandatory COVID-19 testing was unveiled by UF Health’s Dr. Michael Lauzardo

Christopher Dawes, 20, a UF health science sophomore and Tri Gators member, leaves the Stephen C. O'Connell Center after getting tested for Covid-19 on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.
Christopher Dawes, 20, a UF health science sophomore and Tri Gators member, leaves the Stephen C. O'Connell Center after getting tested for Covid-19 on Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.

UF students can add a negative COVID-19 test result to their supply lists in the Spring as UF moves to mandatory testing for those taking in-person classes.

UF will require COVID-19 testing for students taking in-person classes, living on campus, part of a Greek organization or a member of UF’s Reserve Officer Training Corps. It will begin the week before classes start and continue for at least the first six weeks of the semester, or until the positivity rate drops below 3%.

It’s unclear whether all tests will be completed by the Jan. 11 start date or how long mandatory testing will ultimately last.

Dr. Michael Lauzardo, the head of UF Health’s Screen, Test and Protect program, said he expects to conduct up to 25,000 tests every two weeks.

When students arrive on campus, they will be asked to complete the COVID-19 screening questionnaire on One.UF, he said. Those who have symptoms will be tested first, followed by those who fall in the student groups that are required to be tested.

This initial round of mandatory tests will be completed by the end of the first week of classes, Lauzardo said. Students are expected to attend the first week of classes even if they haven’t been tested, though he anticipates most students to have completed their tests by then.

After their first test, the two-week testing cycle will start, he said. Testing must be completed through UF Health and students will have 48 hours to schedule their test once their two-week testing period ends.

Students taking online classes will be exempt from mandatory testing, though they may still request a test, he said.

Students in the testing groups who have tested positive for COVID-19 within a 90-day period will also not have to test. Once that period expires, they will be re-enrolled in mandatory testing through One.UF.

Students’ results, which they will receive within 24 hours, will then be posted onto their One.UF account, Lauzardo said. They will be expected to show them to their professors, if asked.

Faculty members will not be required to test in the Spring, he said.

As students go through routine testing, they won’t be expected to self-isolate unless they show symptoms or come into contact with someone who tested positive, Lauzardo said. If a student tests positive, they will quarantine and not be allowed on campus.

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An in-person class won’t go online if a student tests positive, he said. Instead, UF will notify students in the class that someone tested positive and investigate where that student could have come into contact with someone with COVID-19.

Students who do not get tested or who come to class with a positive result will face consequences consistent with UF’s current behavioral expectations, Heather White, UF’s Dean of Students, wrote in an email. 

If an outbreak emerges — where multiple students in an in-person class test positive — UF will reevaluate whether that class should move online, he said. 

“We’re not doing a one-size-fits-all,” Lauzardo said. “We’re looking at each part individually just to do everything we can to see.”

Contact Corbin at cbolies@alligator.org. Follow him on Twitter @CorbinBolies.

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