WSU announces COVID‑19 testing plan for Spring 2021 semester

Entrance to Washington State University's Pullman campus.
Washington State University

Washington State University’s comprehensive COVID-19 testing program for its Pullman and Health Sciences Spokane campuses will include robust testing procedures among other measures to keep communities safe.

“Our testing plan for the Spring 2021 semester is guided by the scientific expertise of our faculty and staff, the strength of our community partnerships and valuable lessons learned during this ongoing pandemic,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “But plans only get us so far, and we’re counting on the WSU community to stick to the plan and to continue following public health guidelines.”

The university’s plan includes protocols for students, faculty, staff as well as visitors to the Pullman campus. More information can be found in the WSU Spring Semester 2021 Testing Plan.

Arrival screenings

WSU Pullman students living or working on-campus as well as WSU Health Sciences Spokane students working in clinical programs or conducting patient subject research will be required to participate in arrival screening for COVID-19. Specific details on how this will be implemented with be communicated to impacted groups.

Up to 3,000 students moving into on-campus housing in Pullman are expected to be screened at the start of the semester, with as many as 800 students per day being tested. To meet the demand, WSU is partnering with community organizations to assist in the collection and processing of samples. Students living on campus will have to self-quarantine until they have their results, and if positive, they will be moved to isolation housing provided by the university.

Before entering any university faculty on the Pullman campus for the first time, students will be required to participate in arrival testing and show proof of a negative test. WSU Spokane students will also have to participate in screenings before the first day of the Spring 2021 semester if they are participating in clinics, conducting patient subject research or seeking to use WSU Spokane facilities.

In addition to mandatory testing, WSU Pullman is encouraging all student living off campus to participate in arrival screenings upon returning from winter break. A majority of classes will be taught at a distance in the spring, with limited in-person classes as needed.

All screening testing will be done at no cost.

Ongoing testing

WSU Pullman will provide ongoing voluntary screening tests for students and employees throughout the semester in partnership with WSU One Health Diagnostics and Incyte Labs. Students should expect requests to participate in two additional screening tests during the semester, with further requests stemming from more targeted testing if required.

Voluntary screening testing will be available to WSU Pullman and Spokane students, faculty and staff regularly, with employees and visiting scholars having it available twice per week at various locations. COVID-19 diagnostic testing will continue to be offered to students through Cougar Health Services throughout the semester.

WSU’s Allen School for Global Animal Health is also partnering with other university offices to conduct targeted screenings through wastewater sampling. Wastewater sampling and analysis for the virus that causes COVID-19 will provide a predictive indicator for potential outbreaks in populations within the WSU Pullman campus community. WSU will also sample wastewater from off-campus residences as a means of monitoring disease spread.

Community health

Current requirements, including daily attestation prior to visiting any WSU facility across the state and the use of face coverings, among others, will continue during the Spring 2021 semester.

WSU is following state guidance on quarantining and isolation, with students who test positive or who are close contacts with COVID-19 positive people receiving support from the university while in isolation. Students in isolation and quarantine will all receive health monitoring.

Contact tracing conducted by counties in partnership with WSU will also continue and be critical to reducing exposure and the spread of the virus in the months to come.

The latest updates will continue to be posted on the university’s COVID-19 website.

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