To help ensure a healthy fall reopening, Transylvania University will test residential students for COVID-19 as soon as they arrive on campus.
“Before you even get your key, you will get your COVID test,” said Jeremy Sheffield, director of housing and residence life.
Students who have chosen to live on campus — it’s optional this year — are asked to limit being around others until their test results come back, usually in around 24 hours.
They’ll be moving into residence halls Monday through Aug. 29. (Here’s the schedule.)
Self-isolation may sound especially daunting for students reconnecting with friends they haven’t seen in months — or who are off to college for the first time and itching to meet people. They’re not going to be trapped in their rooms, though. For instance, they can walk over to the patio of the new Campus Center’s Raf Café for takeout. They’ll just need to avoid group events and public places like stores and restaurants and refrain from sharing things such as drinking glasses, towels and bedding — it’s OK for them to hang out outside as long as they wear a face mask and keep six feet away from others.
“While we’ll be limiting our exposure to one another while awaiting test results, that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy time together,” said Denise Hall, assistant director for student success. “You’ll find us on Zoom, physically distanced around our outdoor spaces and enjoying takeout meals in Alumni Plaza. The few hours we’re asked to limit exposure to others will absolutely be worth it, because that’s the foundation on which we’ll be building our entire fall term on campus together. We’re excited to showcase just how fun and friendly members of our campus community are from the day that new students move onto campus.”
Sheffield emphasized the need for students to use common sense and take personal responsibility for their actions while the test results are unknown. “Do you really need to go Target right now to buy that comforter, or can you wait 24 hours pending the results of your test?”
In partnership with a local lab, Transylvania’s Campus Health Clinic and athletics staff will administer the nose swab tests from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. each day of move in. Students will first show their green health pass and then visit a red tent on the basketball court outside Thomson Hall off Fourth Street for the required testing. Students are scheduling move-in times to allow for physical distancing during the entire process, including testing.
These initial tests will take about a minute and are free for residential students — as they are for faculty, staff and off-campus students beginning Monday. (Students living off campus but attending classes in person or using the school’s facilities will have to get a test along with the rest of their classmates, either by scheduling a time during move in or getting one off campus.)
So what happens if residential students test positive at move in? The campus clinic will first fill them in on their options: return home if possible (which it might not be, say, for international students or those with immunocompromised family members) or isolate in the university’s Rosenthal apartment complex. If they stay on campus, Transylvania will coordinate meal delivery, trash pickup and laundry if needed. Also, the campus clinic will check in on them every day, and campus engagement and spiritual services staff will provide resources.
“I don’t want students to think that we’re going to stick you in a room and forget about you,” Sheffield said. “We are here for you, and we’re going to take care of you — and I want families to know that as well. As their students come to our campus, they are now joining our family.”
In addition to providing areas for isolation after a positive test, the university will have quarantine spaces for students who have potentially been exposed to the virus while they await a test — this could include those who receive a red pass after their daily self-evaluation, which asks questions like: Have they had a fever in the past day? Have they been around a group of people without masks and not physically distanced? (If they don’t share a bathroom with anyone in their residence hall, they will be able to quarantine in place.)
Sheffield encourages students to be honest, and he wants them to know that if they have to quarantine or isolate, they won’t lose their regular rooms. Plus, professors, along with the rest of the Transylvania community, will make accommodations for their situation.
For those who don’t comply with campus health policy, there will be repercussions — which could include removal from school housing.
“You’ve got to take personal responsibility, because if you don’t, you could negatively impact our entire campus community,” Sheffield said.
Find out more information on our Healthy at Transy FAQs page.