Message from leadership — Aug. 5, 2020

Volunteers needed for asymptomatic COVID-19 prevalence testing

Dear VCU Students, Faculty and Staff,

Fostering a safe environment for our students and employees takes a team effort and each of us has a role to play. In addition to promoting healthy behaviors, such as wearing a mask and physical distancing, VCU’s current testing strategy includes testing a percentage of VCU community members who have no symptoms of COVID-19 (asymptomatic) on a daily basis. Regular testing of asymptomatic individuals helps us monitor the overall prevalence of COVID-19 in the VCU community and provides the valuable data we need to make decisions about safety measures and university operations.

Once again, we need your help.

Beginning mid-August, VCU will offer COVID-19 prevalence testing at no cost to VCU students and employees at locations on both the Monroe Park and MCV Campuses, however we need to identify a pool of students and employees who want to participate. To volunteer for prevalence testing, fill out the online form at covidtest.vcu.edu/. Participants will receive a viral, oropharyngeal (throat) swab test, not the more invasive nasopharyngeal swab in the nose. If you are selected to participate in prevalence testing, VCU will contact you with details about how to participate and receive your test results. Because the sample population for prevalence testing will change daily to ensure those tested are representative of the VCU community as a whole, we need as many faculty, staff and non-residential students as possible to opt into the pool.

Prevalence testing requires VCU to test a sample of the VCU community — approximately five percent of residential students and approximately two percent of non-residential students and employees. Residential students are automatically enrolled in prevalence testing, however non-residential students and employees must opt-in (residential students are also required to participate in COVID-19 testing prior to move-in).

Prevalence testing will be offered in addition to COVID-19 tests for those experiencing symptoms, which will also be provided at no cost to students and employees. Students and employees are required to monitor their health daily by completing a short survey online each day, and inform Student Health Services or Employee Health if they begin experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19. Both Student Health Services and Employee Health can now be contacted via a call center line at 1-804-MYCOVID or 1-804-692-6843, where students and employees who are experiencing symptoms can discuss testing options and other appropriate next steps. As a reminder, do not report to campus for work, class or other activities if you begin experiencing symptoms related to COVID-19.

For more information about VCU’s COVID-19 testing strategy, including how information is reported to the Virginia Department of Health, visit together.vcu.edu/protocols/testing/ or email covidtest@vcu.edu. As always, thank you for doing your part to keep the VCU and surrounding community safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Meredith L. Weiss, Ph.D.
Vice president for administration

Tom Briggs
Assistant vice president for safety and risk management
Co-chair, VCU public health response team

Anton Kuzel, M.D.
Chair, department of family medicine
Co-chair, VCU public health response team