FAIRMONT, W.Va. – In response to a mandate by West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, Fairmont State University have announced that the university is in the final planning stages of a campus-wide COVID-19 surveillance testing initiative. Each week saliva-based testing will be self-administered by a sampling of students, faculty and staff equal to 10% of the on-campus population, officials said.
The surveillance testing initiative is a part of the University’s multi-pronged strategy to mitigate and monitor the spread of COVID-19, according to a news release. This testing program will allow the University to monitor and address real-time trends and prevalence and make timely decisions on intervention and response, officials said.
“The University has been a regional and national leader in terms of our COVID response,” Mirta Martin, president of Fairmont State University, said. “Surveillance testing is key to managing COVID in our community. Via pain-free, saliva-based testing, we’ll better monitor COVID-19 trends on campus, allowing us to mitigate any potential outbreaks.”
Surveillance testing will be implemented in a phased approach, with Phase I beginning the week of October 12. This testing stage will focus on employees, students residing on campus, and athletes. Phase II will launch the week of October 19, encompassing a stratified sample of students and employees across campus. Surveillance testing will continue through the end of the fall semester, concluding prior to finals week, the news release said.
Samples from the student and employee populations will be selected and tested for COVID-19, regardless of a known exposure. This strategy will enable the University to make inferences about the spread level on campus, while identifying asymptomatic cases for quarantine.
“I’m proud of how our campus community members have pulled together during this pandemic,” Martin said. “Whether it’s creating a new modality of teaching or participating in this new surveillance testing, this community continually reaffirms values like selflessness and teamwork that make the Falcon Family so special.”
Students, faculty and staff who completed a testing exemption certification, and are not on campus at any time throughout the semester, will not be included in the surveillance testing program.
There are currently three active cases of COVID-19 at Fairmont State, all within the student population. Thirty-one individuals have now recovered since the University began reporting data in late August.
All students who tested positive are monitored by the COVID Task Force and COVID Student Liaison. The University continues to work with the Marion County Health Department to complete investigations and contact tracing for positive cases connected with Fairmont State.