Source: UMass News and Media
To further enhance its asymptomatic testing program for COVID-19, UMass Amherst announced on September 10 that free testing will now be available to all UMass students living in the Amherst area.
The asymptomatic testing program, conducted at the Public Health Promotion Center (PHPC) at the Mullins Center, is designed to mitigate community spread through the early detection of infection. Unlike some earlier tests, the current test is not uncomfortable and there is no charge for testing.
The expanded testing now provides additional free testing access to both undergraduate and graduate students who live in the Amherst area and are not coming to campus for classes. They are strongly encouraged to get tested twice a week. Previously, these students were tested when they first arrived in the Amherst area and were offered testing on a trial basis in recent weeks. Today’s announcement establishes a regular testing schedule and an extended commitment to testing off-campus students.
As part of the testing protocols established since the start of school in August, students who reside on campus have been required to be tested twice a week. In addition, off-campus students coming to campus for face-to-face classes, research labs or work have also been required to be tested twice a week. In the expanded testing program, the Amherst area is defined as Amherst, Hadley, Sunderland, Belchertown, Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett.
Jeffrey Hescock, Executive Director of Environmental Health and Safety, said following the successful launch and operation of the PHPC for a month, the University now has the operational experience and infrastructure in place to expand testing. The PHPC has completed more than 30,000 tests for more than 9,500 unique individuals. “We are pleased to date with the relatively low number of positive cases in our community,” Hescock said. “Our partnership with community officials, extensive testing and a vigorous public information campaign are the central aspects of our approach. We must be vigilant in our efforts, and increased student participation in testing will provide UMass and our community partners with additional data to assess the presence of the virus and to act quickly, as needed, to mitigate its spread.”
Full details of the University’s testing results can be found on a publicly available dashboard.
The PHPC also conducts asymptomatic testing for UMass faculty and staff:
- Faculty who are teaching or conducting research on campus are required to be tested weekly.
- Clinical faculty who are working in healthcare facilities or University Health Services staff who are providing in-person healthcare are required to be tested twice weekly.
- Staff who regularly work on campus are required to be tested weekly.
The announcement was shared with the UMass campus community in a broadcast email that provided a comprehensive update on the university’s COVID-19 testing program.