Colby College, which has required twice-a-week testing and largely kept the virus at bay throughout the semester, will test its roughly 2,000 students on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week. If they test positive, the college will house and feed students for two weeks or work with Maine health authorities on alternate plans for isolation.
It will also offer a free flu shot before sending students home. They will be required to be tested before they return to the campus in Waterville, Maine, early next year, and will be immediately tested upon their arrival at school — and then again two days later, remaining in quarantine until they are clear.
Indiana University has been testing a sampling of its faculty, staff and students each week to identify and contain outbreaks. After starting the semester with nearly 6 percent of those tests returning positive, the Bloomington campus is now at about 1 percent, considered very low, Chuck Carney, a university spokesman, said. The university has recorded more than 3,100 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.
But while the university is offering testing to all students just before Thanksgiving, most students will not be required to take one.
“I would rather give people as much information as possible and trust that they’re going to make a decision that’s best for them and their families instead of putting down rules that could be broken,” said Erika Cheng, the university’s deputy director for mitigation testing.
Sheldon Jacobson, a risk assessment specialist and professor of computer science at the University of Illinois who has studied the pandemic’s impact on campuses, said many colleges were getting better at containing outbreaks and reducing infection levels, though some large ones continue to struggle.
“Most of the students will be going to communities with higher infection rates than where they’re leaving,” Dr. Jacobson said.
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