St. Edward’s will mail COVID-19 test kits to staff and students before fall classes

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — St. Edward’s University solidified plans to mail COVID-19 test kits to all students, faculty and staff prior to their return to campus this fall. The university is preparing for in-person learning, with new social distancing measures in place.

A faculty survey KXAN obtained last month showed more than half had health and safety concerns about returning to campus. In the same survey, which was taken prior to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in Central Texas, the answers were split down the middle on in-person learning vs. remote learning.

According to details posted on the university’s website on July 6, St. Ed’s said it has partnered with the local testing company Everlywell. At-home test kits will be shipped overnight to the university community about one week before their scheduled return to campus.

Individuals will collect a nasal swab sample at home, then drop the return kit in their local UPS dropbox. Results will be provided via email within 48 hours, according to the university.

KXAN first reported on Everlywell’s COVID-19 test kits in March, when the company announced plans to launch at-home kits for consumer purchase, but the company later announced it was changing course to supply its initial batch of tests only to hospitals and health providers. At-home test kits priced at $109 each are now available for purchase on their website.

What happens when someone tests positive?

Those at St. Ed’s who test positive for COVID-19 will be supported through an initial telehealth consult and be referred to Baylor Scott & White Health Services or their personal healthcare professional for follow-up.

The patient will be asked to self-isolate until released by a healthcare professional to return to campus. The university said it will support Austin Public Health to conduct contact tracing of all positive cases.

The university is also implementing daily symptom screening for all employees, students, volunteers and campus visitors. They will take a short survey through a secure app or website and receive one of two badges good for 24 hours: an “Approved to Be On-Campus” badge or a “Stay Home” badge.

Individuals might be asked to show the badge prior to receiving certain indoor services, and professors may request the badge before students enter a classroom. Those who test positive for COVID-19 must be cleared by a healthcare professional before receiving an on-campus badge.

On-campus vs. off campus students

The university said it will have separate procedures in place for students living on-campus when it comes to self-isolation and care, which includes daily check-ins, meals and additional support. Students living off campus will be asked to self-isolate and not return to campus until receiving medical clearance.

The university has put the following guidelines in place for employees:

  • Employees testing positive should notify their supervisor that they will be unable to be on campus.
  • Employees that are asymptomatic positive or with limited symptoms may be able to work remotely until cleared by a healthcare professional for a return to campus.
  • The university’s Human Resources team will be available to discuss leave opportunities to support their recovery as necessary.
  • Employees testing positive will receive a daily badge via the app used by the university community for returning to campus after providing clearance to return-to-work from a healthcare professional.

The university laid off 95 employees over the summer due to financial losses brought on by the pandemic.

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