The University of Vermont will continue to test students weekly for COVID-19 until at least Nov. 1, President Suresh Garimella announced Wednesday.
UVM in July announced plans to test students for the coronavirus through Sept. 18, after which the initial phase of testing would undergo review through public health and medical analysis to guide future protocols.
Medical experts, who provided guidance based on the first month of testing, will review the data again with the university when this newest extension expires, Garimella said.
More: Fauci: Vermont coronavirus response ‘should be a model for the country’
The university provides weekly updates on testing data for students, faculty and staff. The cumulative totals since Aug. 7, which include results received as of Wednesday, show:
- Of 18,400 test results from off-campus students, eight tested positive.
- Of 12,863 on-campus residential students, 11 tested positive.
- No faculty (370) or staff (1,069) so far have tested positive.
Enrollment numbers from Fall 2019 show:
- 10,700 undergraduate students, 26% of whom were Vermont residents.
- 1,627 graduate students, 41% of whom were Vermont residents.
- 478 medical students, 20% of whom were Vermont residents.
How UVM’s response to COVID-19 evolved
Back in July, the university offered details for the on-campus and at-home options available to students.
Students who opted for the on-campus option were mandated “to participate in twice-weekly sampling and testing for COVID-19,” free and accessible on campus. This plan didn’t appear to be in effect a month later, when Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger penned an Aug. 5 letter to Garimella.
Weinberger described the university’s weekly publication of positive results “unacceptable” and advocated for daily updates. He also wondered why UVM opted only for weekly testing when “in our previous conversations, and in written plans posted to your website” the school indicated it would conduct testing two times a week.
The mayor announced in an Aug. 18 briefing updates on his conversation with Garimella that included clarifications and changes, such as the university’s plan to share test results with the Department of Health daily and to keep Burlington in the loop “on a standing weekly basis and more frequently if problems arise.”
UVM COVID-19 testing as it stands today
Students without exemptions could face administrative sanctions for missing a mandated test, UVM spokesperson Enrique Corredera wrote in an email to the Free Press Sunday.
“A second offense, or failure to test after the initial notice, would result in Center for Student Conduct review through the established hearing process for immediate suspension,” he wrote.
Corredera indicated students appear to be following protocol based on the volume of tests being administered. However, The Vermont Cynic, an editorially-independent publication managed by UVM students, reported in a story with a Sept. 10 timestamp that results “indicate that 3,427 fewer students were tested this week than last, despite University requirement that all students get tested weekly.”
Comparing the volume of results between website reports can present an inaccurate picture, Corredera explained in an email Thursday.
“That’s because students are not necessarily testing on the same day of the week each week, so there are bound to be fluctuations from one report to the next,” he wrote. “We estimate we are getting about 99 percent compliance.”
Contact Maleeha Syed at [email protected] or 802-495-6595. Follow her on Twitter @MaleehaSyed89.
This coverage is only possible with support from our readers. Sign up today for a subscription to the Burlington Free Press.