KU to require COVID-19 testing prior to spring semester

photo by: Conner Mitchell

Students walk along Jayhawk Boulevard, donning masks, on the University of Kansas campus on Aug. 24, 2020.

Updated at 3 p.m. Wednesday

The University of Kansas will once again mandate COVID-19 testing prior to the start of the upcoming semester, a mitigation measure that proved “crucial” prior to the fall semester, according to the chancellor.

Chancellor Douglas Girod wrote in a Wednesday morning update that most students, faculty and staff returning to the campus prior to Feb. 12 must take a COVID-19 test.

“As we learned last semester, mandatory entry testing for our on-campus students, faculty, and staff was crucial to our efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” Girod wrote.

Students who live in KU’s student housing should have already received mail-in tests that they will need to complete before returning to campus. All other students, faculty and staff are directed to go to covidtest.ku.edu to determine whether or not they need to receive a test and how to schedule an appointment.

People who have tested positive for COVID-19 on or after Nov. 1, 2020, do not need to participate in entry testing, but will still need to go to covidtest.ku.edu to confirm their status by uploading documentation of their positive test. Additionally, people who do not plan to be on campus prior to Feb. 12 do not need to participate in entry testing. KU’s first day of classes is on Feb. 1.

Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, spokesperson for the university, said the reason behind the Feb. 12 date was because the university based this round of testing on last semester’s entry testing, “which sought to test all those on campus during the first two weeks of the semester.”

“By testing those who will be on campus in the first two weeks, we have a good representation of the campus population for the remainder of the semester,” Barcomb-Peterson wrote in an email to the Journal-World. She also noted that the entry testing was only one layer of protection against COVID-19 on campus. Other efforts include the use of the CVKey health self-assessment app, masking requirements on campus and social-distancing setups in classroom spaces.

Girod noted in his update that anyone who has recently received any doses of a COVID-19 vaccine must still participate in entry testing, which is saliva-based, like last semester.

Testing appointments will take place between Jan. 19 and Jan. 30. Students, faculty and staff may either sign up for a drive-thru testing site at the Mississippi Street parking garage at the Kansas Union or a walk-up site on the fourth floor of the Kansas Union. Students, faculty and staff at the KU Edwards Campus should participate in the testing in Lawrence, if possible, Girod wrote. Employees and students at the KU Medical Center will have a separate testing process.

At the end of his message, Girod thanked the KU community for prioritizing the health of students and employees.

“We could not have had a semester like we did in the fall – with no known cases of transmission in our classrooms and no health department-declared outbreaks stemming from university events – without taking the global pandemic seriously,” he wrote. “Participation in this round of entry testing is another way all of us can demonstrate our responsibility to our community.”

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