SAN DIEGO — Adela de la Torre, Ph.D., San Diego State University President, and other school administration leaders released a statement addressed to the SDSU community on Tuesday announcing a new initiative for students and COVID-19 testing.
In partnership with the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) the university announced that it has developed a plan to test all students living on campus for COVID-19 through a new random testing initiative: SDSU’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Plan.
The plan is to expand the testing options with the university saying "All students who live in SDSU on-campus housing will be required to get COVID-19 tested, with limited exceptions."
The new model will center on students living on campus, but the administration also continues to encourage students that live off-campus to get tested as well.
The random testing model that has been adopted by many other universities will be implemented at SDSU.
More specific details of SDSU’s COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Plan are explained in the letter from the school:
"With this message, we explain the random testing model, which has been similarly adopted recently by a number of universities nationally, and why we are implementing this plan now.
On-Campus Student Resident Testing Expanding
As part of the next step in our health and safety efforts, SDSU in partnership with HHSA will begin COVID-19 testing all students who live in campus housing. This enhanced testing will begin starting tomorrow, Wednesday, Sept. 16, through Saturday, Sept. 19, and again on Monday, Sept. 21, with a target of SHS and HHSA collectively testing about 500 students daily.
All students living in SDSU residence halls and apartments will be assigned testing slots at either the Student Health Services Calpulli Center, or the HHSA testing location at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center, 5250 55th St., located just west of Viejas Arena. Students will be notified of their assigned testing window, along with instructions on what to do, via email to their SDSU email address.
Testing is offered at no cost, and all students will be provided a $5 Starbucks voucher when they show their SDSUcard. Ten students will also be randomly selected to receive $100 gift cards to the SDSU Bookstore.
All students continue to have access to testing at Student Health Services and at sites at both San Diego County and Imperial County locations. Faculty and staff continue to have access to county testing site locations, including the location at the Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center.
Random Testing to be Implemented
Following the initial phase of benchmark testing for all students in residence this week, we will then launch random testing for the on-campus housing population. During each round of testing, a set of individuals from each residential community group will be randomly sampled to be re-tested.
Periodic random testing of a representative sample of our students — specifically those who are asymptomatic — is a proven method and best practice which will provide critical information as we assess changes in the prevalence of COVID-19 within the SDSU community. This type of testing will also help us to understand where we need to take additional, quick action to reduce transmission.
Stay at Home Order and COVID-19 Advisory
This new testing model will help us to capture more granular detail about the virus spread within the student population in which we have jurisdiction--our on-campus students. If we have widespread participation in the plan, then we do not anticipate re-implementing the Stay at Home Order and COVID-19 Advisory, which expired at 9 a.m. on Sept. 14. Each of those measures resulted in a significant reduction in off-campus gatherings and an overall reduction in the number of reported violations. Further, we have seen a significantly reduced rate of new cases impacting our residential community following those orders. Surveillance testing, built upon this foundation of good individual behavior, will help further ensure the risk of infection remains low in on-campus housing.
While these Stay at Home orders and advisories have been lifted, we ask our students to continue to follow the necessary public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including not gathering with non-household members, wearing facial coverings, maintaining physical distance, and practicing appropriate hygiene including handwashing."