Purdue Announces Plan For Ongoing COVID-19 Testing For Students, Faculty And Staff

(WEST LAFAYETTE) – Purdue University announced Friday (Aug. 21) its strategy for ongoing COVID-19 surveillance testing as nearly 40,000 students return to campus for fall classes, which for most begin Monday (Aug. 24).

As part of the Protect Purdue plan, all students were required to have a negative test result prior to arrival on campus, or if they tested positive, to have documentation from the Protect Purdue Health Center (PPHC) that they have completed a 10-day isolation and are cleared to come to campus.

Beginning Monday (Aug. 24), a comprehensive surveillance testing program will be implemented, and a dashboard of current Protect Purdue Health Center testing results will be available on the Protect Purdue website.    

“Ongoing surveillance sampling and testing is a critical step in our Protect Purdue Plan to monitor for potential infection both on and off campus,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, medical director for the Protect Purdue Health Center. “We have established what we believe to be a comprehensive testing plan to reduce the potential for spread of COVID-19 and help ensure that the university can safely continue in its missions of education, research and engagement.”

Elements of the plan include:

  • Required random testing throughout the semester of all undergraduate, graduate and professional program students.
  • Required weekly testing of all on-campus employees in categories designated as critical to the continuity of core university operations, such as police, fire, medical, utility operators, and others.
    • Required pre-employment testing of all new on-campus employees or contractors in these designated categories.
  • Required random testing throughout the semester of all other employees who are working 100% of their time on-campus.
  • Continued open testing for faculty, staff and students with or without symptoms at no cost.
  • Utilization of contact tracers and a proximity monitoring system to identify potential outbreaks and hot spots to guide additional testing on an as-needed basis.

All who need to be tested through the ongoing surveillance program will be notified by email, will be given specific instructions for where they can be tested, and will have 48 hours to comply. Sampling will be done via a saliva-based method.

Ramirez said the goal is to test approximately 10% of the campus each week. He also stressed that being identified for random surveillance testing does not mean that an individual has been exposed to the virus or is suspected of being positive. Rather, the individual has been chosen at random for the test, a proven strategy for monitoring the health of the community.

All faculty, staff and students are reminded that they must continue to monitor daily for symptoms in compliance with the Protect Purdue pledge. Those faculty, staff and students who are symptomatic must call the PPHC to schedule a test, follow the direction and decisions of the nurse case managers, and should stay away from campus and isolate until they are cleared by the medical team at PPHC. Each person with a positive test will be assigned a case manager from the PPHC to guide them through the testing, isolation, and contact tracing steps.

Information by Tim Doty, doty2@purdue.edu