Washington State University plans to test every student in upcoming semester

PULLMAN, Wash. — This time of year, students look forward to visiting their families during the Thanksgiving break. Officials at Washington State University are warning against such gatherings this year.

It’s part of their larger plan to get a grip on the COVID-19 pandemic.  In a virtual town hall on Wednesday, WSU President Kirk Schulz made it clear to students; If you plan to go home for Thanksgiving break, don’t come back to campus until the news semester starts.

“If you are traveling home, please get tested for the virus before you go,” said Schulz.

Students that are leaving campus this weekend will also have to wait an additional week as the university pushed back the start of next semester a week later.

Once the semester starts the university has a four prong plan to make sure every student on campus is tested. The first part of that is arrival testing. This applies to students living in dorms, students employees, student athletes and those who will be using campus facilities frequently.

“That arrival testing will hopefully identify right at the beginning to make sure that everyone who is with us is testing negative,” said Phil Weiler, vice president of University Marketing & Communications.

The second part is a series of voluntary tests throughout the semester, paid for by the university.

“We want to remove as many barriers as possible to testing, we want to make sure that cost is not a barrier. We also want to make sure that distance isn’t a barrier,” said Weiler.

The third is the testing of the wastewater stream coming out of buildings and dorms.

“If we identify presence of the coronavirus in that wastewater stream then we’ll go through and test everybody in the building to really identify where the source of that illness is,” added Weiler.

The final prong is diagnostic testing, which is anyone that is displaying symptoms of COVID-19 whether that be a scratchy throat or a cough.

“We want you to come in immediately and get a test to diagnosis whether or not you actually have the illness or if it’s a seasonal allergy or a flu or a cold or whatever the case may be,” said Weiler.

With one more heavy push WSU officials hope they can get a grasp on the virus and next fall semester will be similar to the fall semester of 2019.