Purdue will require all students to be tested for COVID-19 before start of the fall semester

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SOURCE: News release from Purdue University

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind – As the next step to protect the health and safety of everyone on campus and the community, Purdue University announced today (July 8) that it is formulating plans to require and pay for all West Lafayette-bound students to be tested for COVID-19 before moving into residence halls and attending classes this August.

The program will be led by Dr. Esteban Ramirez, chief medical officer at the Protect Purdue Health Center (PPHC), and was developed in consultation with the Protect Purdue Medical Advisory Team. Dr. Ramirez is an experienced internist and clinical assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine-West Lafayette. Under Dr. Ramirez’ direction, the PPHC is the University’s virtual health center launched last week to coordinate the overall workflow of COVID-related case management on campus.

Through its Protect Purdue initiative, undergraduate, graduate and professional program students will soon be provided instructions and assistance on how and when to get tested for COVID-19, beginning in early August before traveling to campus.

Student test results will be sent to the Protect Purdue Health Center, and those testing positive should not travel to West Lafayette or come to campus for any reason until they isolate for 14 days and are medically-cleared to return by the PPHC.

Failure to complete a COVID-19 test and have those results filed with the Protect Purdue Health Center prior to arrival will affect a student’s ability to move into a residence hall or begin in-person classes when they resume on Aug. 24. Academic support will be available through virtual consultations with staff specializing in student success to help undergraduate students navigate their continued academic progress if they must isolate because of COVID-19.

For students already on campus or arriving for various early-start programs throughout July, the University and the Protect Purdue Health Center are developing plans to rapidly sample and test individuals through a combination of resources provided by on-campus, local and outside partners.

The University will cover costs of all student testing. Purdue is expecting a potentially record number of freshmen this fall, with a student body of more than 40,000 total.

“Our comprehensive Protect Purdue Plan affords us the unique flexibility and adaptability to respond to rising COVID-19 cases across parts of the country and help protect our Purdue community in real time,” Ramirez said.

“We are committed to facilitating the testing of our students who span the nation and the globe before they return to the residence halls, classrooms and West Lafayette community this August by way of our Protect Purdue Health Center,” Ramirez added. “Through these preventative and proactive measures, we take another important step to protect the student body, our faculty, staff, overall campus and members of the local community — particularly the most vulnerable — amid concerning national trends.”

Undergraduate, graduate and professional program students: All students living on campus this fall will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and have a negative test result on file with the Protect Purdue Health Center prior to moving into their residence hall in August.

Those students living off campus also will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and have negative test results on file with the PPHC prior to participating in an on-campus program in August or attending their first in-person class.

Specific instructions will soon be provided on how and when to get tested for COVID-19 in August before traveling to campus, while allowing adequate time for processing and reporting test results before arrival.

For students participating in Early Start, Summer Start and other programs throughout July, as well as students already at Purdue for work, research or classes this summer, special arrangements have been made to test them on campus or in collaboration with local testing partners.

Faculty and staff: Faculty and staff are not required to be COVID-19 tested at this time provided they are not sick, experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, and have not been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

All faculty and staff, particularly those working on campus this summer and fall, are encouraged to adhere to the components of the Protect Purdue Pledge, particularly monitoring and reporting any signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to the Protect Purdue Health Center by calling 765-496-INFO (4636) or toll-free at 833-571-1043. The caller will be connected to a registered nurse case manager, who will help determine the appropriate course of care, which could include self-quarantine and a COVID-19 test.

Integrated Monitoring and Surveillance Plan: The Protect Purdue Health Center, the single-point health center for all things COVID-19-related for the Purdue community, is staffed with a dedicated team of physicians, registered nurses, case managers, contact tracers and support staff. Ramirez said the PPHC is working closely with the Protect Purdue Health Monitoring and Surveillance Team as well as the Medical Advisory Team to ensure the safety, health and well-being of individuals and the community.

As the semester progresses, the Protect Purdue Health Center will provide ongoing case management, which will include monitoring and testing of both symptomatic individuals and close contacts who might have been exposed to positive individuals. The protocols for testing and contact tracing have been developed in accordance with the guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Indiana State Department of Health.

When the comprehensive Protect Purdue Plan was announced on June 12 for reopening the campus this fall, the University began the capabilities to rapidly assess, sample and test any student, faculty or staff member reporting COVID-19 symptoms and those identified through clinically relevant contact tracing.