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Science, Health, Tech

Report examines how DSU used COVID testing to keep campus open

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Brad Glazier
/
Delaware Public Media

Delaware State University (DSU) has been recognized for its COVID testing and other safety measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

DSU partnered with public and private groups to develop a multi-pronged approach to manage the spread of COVID on campus during the 2020-2021 school year.

It leaned heavily on testing - with the school doing twice-a-week PCR testing of its 2,320 students, faculty and staff from August 2020 through this past April.

And it’s success was highlighted by a new research study recently published by the JAMA Network Open, an open access biomedical sciences journal published by the American Medical Association.

“We were very fortunate to work with an organization called Testing for America," said Michelle Fisher - DSU’s associate vice president for campus health services. "And by partnering with this organization, it enabled us to do surveillance testing on our campus - during a time when there was not a vaccine available and all we had at our discretion was the preventative measures that were recommended by the CDC.”

Fisher notes that surveillance testing allowed for early detection of cases among students and staff and a quicker response to treatment and care,
even as the pandemic was disproportionately affecting communities of color.

“Everyone on our campus community was required to test twice a week," Fisher said. "And in addition to that, when we did get positive cases - the campus health services staff did contact tracing. And that was a 24/7 type of responsibility that we had.”

Fisher says enabling students to be on campus is essential to their health and well-being, and ensures they have access to housing, health care, food, internet services and other essential resources.

She says the lessons from this study are important as the Omicron variant spreads - offering a road map for campus safety to use along with vaccines and boosters, mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing.

COVID cases on the DSU campus have remained consistently low throughout the pandemic - with positive tests largely holding below 1%, according to Fisher.