Western Colorado University launches testing efforts

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Random COVID testing to take place throughout semester

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  • Western Colorado University
    Western Colorado University

Class will be in session for Western Colorado University faculty, staff and students on Monday, and university officials are preparing to launch efforts to assist the Western community during the pandemic.

The university announced through social media Dec. 18 they will kick off a new campuswide testing method to track COVID-19 spread.

“The purpose of the testing is to catch and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus and to track trends in transmission;’ said Western’s Communications Officer Chris Rourke.

Random, voluntary testing is set to begin next week Students will be tested Mondays and Tuesdays, and faculty and staff will be tested Thursdays.

Rourke said the university’s goal is to test at least 1,000 students and 65 faculty and staff members during the first part of the spring semester. The COVID-19 test will be a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) nasal swab test with a two- to three-day turnaround.

Rourke said as the semester progresses and testing is done more sporadically, the aim will be to test 150 individuals each week through both PCR and saliva tests.

Testing will be free to students and employees and provided to the university through a contract with COVIDCheck Colorado.

Rourke said university officials are updating quarantine procedures and COVID-19 related student conduct policies.

“We are very excited to welcome our students back to campus;’ Rourke said. “With our collaboration with Gunnison County Health and Human Services, we are confident in our testing plan and implementation of other pandemic policies, ensuring we are doing the best to protect both the Western community and the public at large’

Western officials announced Jan. 5 that they will also be allocating $250 in relief payments to full-time students in the next month. Rourke said the school is anticipating $675,000 in federal monies to go toward the payments.

“It is our way of not only helping bear the burden of COVID-19 costs, but to thank you for remaining steady in your pursuit of academic excellence and a sound future;’ Vice President for Enrollment and Student Success Abel Chavez wrote to Western students in an email.

“Our hope that as you stay on course despite the many distractions of this pandemic, you will achieve your goal of success in every form;’ Chavez wrote.

(Roberta Marquette can be contacted at 970.641.1414 or at roberta@gunnisontimes.com.)