STORRS, Conn. (WTNH) — In Storrs, the University of Connecticut campus is pretty quiet right now. There are some student-athletes and resident assistants, but the bulk of the students will be returning to campus this weekend.
Before the students return to campus they have to go through a pre-arrival COVID-19 screening. That entails a swab for a saliva test that they have to administer on a Zoom call to make sure it’s done correctly.
“UConn is taking the best precautions around here so we feel comfortable,” said UConn senior Melina Couzis.
She and sophomore Cara Jordan arrived early because they are on the soccer team. They, like all other students, had to first do a swab saliva test at home.
“If they test negative then they’re clear to come to campus and get their keys and take another test,” said UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.
If they test positive at home they cannot come on campus until they are cleared to come back.
“It’s not foolproof, but it’s definitely a good way to at least try to get a sample of everything before people get here,” said Jordan.
Commuters have to go through the same testing before coming on campus. After that students will be tested weekly on a rotating basis through COVID testing done at the field house like last semester or pool sampling where they spit into a vile.
“If there is a positive that comes out of any of those pools we can then drill down and do individual testing,” said Reitz.
On site testing at the Field House will begin again the week of Jan. 25.
What will be different this spring is that they’ll be testing for the different strains of the coronavirus so they have a better idea of what they’re dealing with.
Students move back on campus this weekend and starting on Monday the first two weeks of classes will be all online as they quarantine.
“I think it leads to less boredom and less instigation of breaking the rules,” said Couzis.
Unlike in the fall when students arrived early to quarantine before classes started.
Wastewater will also be tested at more locations along the 27 miles of sewer lines to determine if a particular building or residence hall is affected.
“You can find that virus in wastewater a good seven to ten days before it becomes an outbreak,” said Reitz.
Identifying problems at a specific building could also indicate if a spread comes from on-campus students, commuters, or staff.