College of Charleston President Andrew T. Hsu shared the following message regarding new COVID-19 testing protocols with the campus community on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020:
Dear Campus Community,
I’m writing today to announce a significant change in our plans regarding COVID-19 testing of students living on campus.
When we first announced our Back on the Bricks plan on July 1, our stance was to not require that students be tested prior to returning to campus. That decision was based on sound scientific guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.
However, in the weeks since we announced our fall return plan, we have heard from many families, students and employees who feel that the College should require or at least strongly encourage some level of testing for those students who plan to live on campus when in-person classes begin on Monday, September 14.
While implementing testing protocols for our campus community offers no guarantee that we will not experience positive cases on campus, we must do everything in our power to protect the health and safety of our campus community, to limit the possibility of virus spread and to obtain baseline data that will inform our decision-making as we move through the semester.
Therefore, out of an abundance of caution and to provide greater peace of mind to members of our campus community as we prepare to begin the academic year, the College is adopting new protocols for COVID-19 testing as follows:
- All students who will be living in any College-operated residence hall or historic home will be required to submit a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or antigen COVID-19 test result (positive or negative) taken on August 28 or after prior to moving in or returning to campus.
- Students who have a previously positive PCR or antigen COVID-19 test (dated before August 28, 2020) can upload those results and do not need to be tested again before returning to campus.
- On-campus residential students who do not have a COVID-19 test result uploaded will not be authorized to move into campus housing until their test results are provided.
- Off-campus students are strongly encouraged to submit a PCR or an antigen test result (positive or negative) prior to returning to campus.
- Students who have received a housing exemption to move in early will receive specific directions regarding screening and testing.
- Students who plan to take classes online for the duration of the fall semester and do not intend to be on campus are not required to submit a test or to be tested on campus.
- The College will offer limited on-campus testing for students prior to the start of in-person classes, but students should first attempt to seek testing on their own.
- The College will conduct random COVID-19 testing on campus throughout the semester.
- Faculty and staff are advised to continue to monitor symptoms and seek COVID-19 testing only if they are symptomatic or have reason to believe they were exposed. Faculty and staff experiencing symptoms should not come to campus for work.
Details on the above testing protocols and related resources are posted on the College’s Back on the Bricks website.
I understand that this change in our fall planning will create some additional burdens on members of our campus community. But my hope is that these challenges will be outweighed by the benefits that these additional measures will provide.
As of today, the College remains committed to beginning in-person classes on Monday, September 14. Nothing about this semester will be “normal” in the traditional sense of the word, and our decision to return to campus for fall presents extraordinary logistical and financial hurdles for the College. We will enforce our requirements for face coverings and social distancing, and members of our campus will be presented with daily reminders about monitoring their health and taking personal responsibility to keep our campus safe.
For this to work, everyone must do their part. These new testing protocols may be an inconvenience, but they are simply a fact of life in these unprecedented times. And if they help to increase our chances of coming back – and staying back – for fall, then I believe it’s a small price to pay.
Please stay safe, wear a mask, social distance, practice good personal hygiene and get tested!
Andrew T. Hsu, Ph.D.
College of Charleston