Strong Start in First Month of COVID-19 SHIELD Testing at Greenville University
Greenville University reports a strong start to its rigorous testing procedures that screen students and staff frequently for COVID-19. University administrators hope campus-wide compliance will preserve face-to-face learning through the fall semester. In the early weeks of the school year, testing led to rapid isolation of infected individuals and mitigated spread of the virus.
Developed in partnership with the University of Illinois Systems SHIELD program, GU’s testing protocol averaged 1,600 tests per week (8/14 to 9/11). The tests require all faculty, students and staff to provide saliva samples two times a week.
Daily communication between the U of I System, the Bond County Health Department and the Illinois Department of Public Health contributed to the smooth testing operation. In the first two weeks, .29% of 3,147 saliva samples collected at GU tested positive for COVID-19 (this is what is known as the “positivity rate,” a key indicator of infectiousness). Nine infected persons entered isolation and 55 potentially infected persons (identified by contact tracing) entered quarantine. New cases on campus soon declined to zero and the few positives in the past two weeks were from outside of campus.
GU’s President Suzanne Davis comments, “I am so thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with the University of Illinois. We’ve been successful in containing the spread of the virus to the extent that the few positives we’ve had in the past two weeks are from outside of campus. Alongside careful treatment of isolation and quarantine cases during the first few weeks of testing, the SHIELD program has allowed us to reopen our campus responsibly in the Greenville community.”
Over the past four weeks (8/14-9/11), testing cooperation among GU’s 700 students was at a compliance rate of 80% and its 180 employees were at a rate of 97% for following the twice-per-week SHIELD test protocols. Terrell Carter, Chief Diversity Officer and Special Advisor to the President reached out to any non-compliant student personally to remediate those testing only once per week. According to Dr. Carter, “Students received clear communication as to GU’s standards and the consequences of not following the protocol before they arrived on campus. Compliance is monitored weekly and dealt with situationally.”
This story was published on September 22, 2020