Survey Finds Range of COVID Testing Strategies

December 11, 2020

Survey results released Thursday from the American College Health Association show that 83.9 percent of responding colleges are conducting on-campus COVID-19 testing this fall, and just 37.2 percent tested students upon their arrival on campus.

“In the absence of a national strategy or clear guidance, schools implemented a variety of mitigation strategies based on individual institutional needs and resource availability,” a report on the survey concludes. “This was most evident in the range of testing strategies deployed.”

Of those institutions conducting testing, 93.3 percent reported testing symptomatic students, 83.8 percent reported testing exposed students and 70.4 percent reported testing at least some asymptomatic students.

Additionally, 71.3 percent reported testing residential students and 67.5 percent reported testing special populations, such as athletes or fraternity or sorority members. A smaller proportion -- 59.6 percent -- reported testing faculty and staff.

Of those campuses not conducting testing, the three most commonly cited reasons were a lack of human resources, the outsourcing of testing to an off-campus entity, and the cost of testing.

A total of 289 colleges, primarily four-year institutions, responded to the survey, which was conducted in October. The survey report cautions the sample is made up of ACHA institutional or individual members at nonmember institutions and “does not represent all institutions of higher education in the United States.” The response rate was 29.4 percent.

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