New COVID-19 Test Kit Reduces Wait Time

by   |   dalewand@bju.edu   |  
Health sciences student administers COVID-19 test

BJU will implement within the next two weeks a new on-site COVID-19 test procedure that will significantly reduce the turnaround time for results and will be more cost effective than the current model.

Photo of the machine in which the COVID-19 tests will be processed (Photo by Derek Eckenroth)

Samples of three student target groups will continue to be conducted via a nasal swab. But instead of sending samples to a local lab, the kit allows for on-campus processing that will reduce time for results to be reported from up to 24 hours to about 12 minutes.

Weekly testing of target groups — student-athletes, brass and woodwind orchestra members and the cast of The Tempest — is providing a general sample size of campus, according to Dr. Jessica Minor, dean of the School of Health Professions and leader of the Health & Safety subcommittee.

See Also: What to know about health & safety policies

The NCAA requires student-athletes to be tested 72 hours before a scheduled match in high-contact sports such as soccer, volleyball and basketball. No student-athlete as of this publish date has received a positive test result this semester.

“(The three groups) are a good representative sample because there is at least one person from every dorm and most of the time from every hall,” Minor said. “We had originally wanted to do a 10% sample of the student body every week, and the number of the three groups is just above 10%. The only downside is you’re testing the same people over and over. We could add a couple more groups (such as performance choirs), especially because we will have our own testing kits and our own supplies.”

Students, Faculty, Staff Follow Protocols

All BJU students, faculty and staff are required to conduct daily digital self-screening.

Residence hall students exhibiting symptoms or who have not passed their digital self-screening will be directed to call the BJU Student Medical Access Line provided by Prisma Health and contact Student Health Services. An appointment for a COVID-19 test will be scheduled at a testing site, and students will enter the Reveal Student Isolation Residence Hall while awaiting test results.

See Also: Student Health Services director advises BJU community

Faculty, staff and day students are to schedule a test through their primary care physician or a recognized testing site and follow University protocols to isolate at home.

Flu Season an Unknown Factor

Minor encourages students to receive a flu shot. Flu symptoms, much like allergies or the common cold, are similar to COVID-19 symptoms.

“We are all a little concerned for what the flu season will bring. During the flu season most likely everybody will get tested at some point,” she said. “Or even if they aren’t being tested, maybe they should because it is so easy. The flu shot could reduce the number of people being tested who might have some type of symptoms.”

Minor said students, faculty and staff have been “doing really well” following University protocols — the four W’s — to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus during the in-person academic semester that started in mid-August and continues to Nov. 24. Off-campus group interactions are the primary transmitter at most colleges and universities.

“I’ve been encouraged by the attitude of everybody,” she said. “Even if they didn’t necessarily agree with all of them, they are not making a big deal of it. They are following it because they know this will help everybody. We just want to keep making sure that we’re doing a great job because at any time all it takes is one or two people to spread it.”

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