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OHIO launches asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Pathway Program

Published: April 30, 2021 Author: Staff reports

For Summer and Fall 2021 Semesters, a new asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program for students, faculty, and staff will help the University gauge and respond to infection rates on campus as OHIO begins more normal operations.

The Testing Pathway Program requires fully vaccinated students, faculty, and staff to participate in asymptomatic testing only once a month, while those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 must test once a week.

“I hope everyone who is able will choose to vaccinate, but we want all members of our community to have a safe option that will work for them,” said Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for public health operations.

Ice explained that the University learned a lot this year about managing COVID-19 on its campuses. Regular asymptomatic testing was a key component of that success, allowing quick response before clusters of cases became outbreaks. “We successfully kept cases low and never had to interrupt classes, which many other universities were forced to do,” she said.

Ice explained that a return to more normal activities in fall semester will bring more faculty and staff to a campus that has a higher density of students – creating an exposure risk that is higher for everyone.

“Especially at the beginning of Fall Semester, we will have a large number of people traveling to campus from many different places,” Ice said. “We don’t expect vaccination rates to be high at the beginning of the semester, so this asymptomatic testing program will help us operate safely.”

Because vaccines are not 100 percent effective and it is not yet understood how well they stand up to variants, testing vaccinated individuals in addition to unvaccinated individuals is necessary to provide an accurate picture of the level of disease on campus. The Vault Health tests are noninvasive and there is no cost for the testing.

As more OHIO community members become vaccinated, the need for asymptomatic testing likely will decrease, according to Ice. “When asymptomatic testing repeatedly demonstrates that there is little to no spread on campus, we will know it is time to test less.”

Students, faculty, and staff who will be on campus this summer can select their Testing Pathway by Friday, May 7, at the link provided below. Those who will not be on campus this summer do not need to request an exemption from testing. Those who will not be on campus until the fall can select a pathway before returning and will receive reminders from COVID Operations.

For more information about the Testing Pathway Program, visit https://www.ohio.edu/coronavirus/testing-pathway-program.