Michaela Lumpert, Campus Carrier news editor
In an email sent to the Berry community on Tuesday afternoon, the President’s Office informed students of the new partnership between Berry and the Georgia Department of Public Health department that will work to test all students, faculty and staff on campus.
These tests are being administered in the Cage Arena, and students have been assigned to certain days based on their residence hall. Students will also receive reminder emails from the President’s Office as it nears their testing date.
The partnership with Berry comes from a research project that both the Public Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are funding. As the email explained, this research project is trying to understand if the antigen test is more effective than a regular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. The antigen test provides rapid results while the PCR test takes a few days to receive results from.
Once a person enters into the testing area for their test date, they will be asked to complete two tests at the same time. The results from the antigen test will be conducted onsite using equipment that the school was given from the Georgia Public Health Department. These results will be available to students within 15-20 minutes after completing the test.
The PCR test results will take a few days, and the results will be processed by the CDC and the results from both tests will be compared to see if the antigen tests are accurate and if they can be used on college campuses to test students more frequently.
President Steve Briggs explained to students at the SGA meeting last night that the partnership will also help the CDC determine if quarantine times for college students can be shortened with the rapid-results test. The hope is that the results from this study can be used to help other colleges also shorten their quarantine times.
“We have an opportunity this time to help provide evidence for the questions being asked,” Briggs said.
Students who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past three months will be exempt from this study and this round of testing. Dean of Students Lindsey Taylor described that only these students will be exempt, everyone else will be tested.
Briggs also explained that the school will begin testing the waste water from each residence hall. Testing this water, as he stated, will allow the college to minimize the amount of in-person testing of students on campus. The college will be able to see what levels of the virus are in the waste water of each area, and depending on how high the levels are, only certain residence halls might be asked to get tested for the virus rather than testing the whole community.
The email that was sent to students also stated that none of the information collected from the study will be used against students for Viking Code infractions. Briggs encouraged students to be accurate about who they submit on their contact tracing forms so that the contact tracing team can accurately trace students.
As testing occurs across campus, students should expect emails from the President’s Office with reminders about when their testing is happening.