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COVID Case Counts Remain Low: New Test Provider for Students

By Arshiya Bhayana ’22 and David Edelman ’22

With the spring semester’s first two rounds of COVID-19 mass testing complete, Haverford continues to see very few cases of the virus on campus. As indicated on Haverford’s COVID-19 Dashboard, over 3,000 COVID tests have been administered to students and over 1,000 to employees. During the semester to date, three students have tested positive for COVID, putting Haverford’s screening test positivity rate among students at 0.09%.

The low number of COVID cases shows Haverford’s continued strong performance during the pandemic. During the fall semester, there were only seven positive COVID tests out of nearly 1,000 students on campus.

Part of Haverford’s success in keeping case counts low stems from the mandatory pre-arrival COVID testing: according to a February 16 email from Interim Dean of the College Joyce Bylander, fourteen students were forced to delay their departure for campus at the start of spring semester due to positive COVID tests.

The location for on-campus COVID screening remains inside Founders Hall. Mass testing continues to take place every two weeks, but the college is now able to test all students on Mondays and Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This semester, Haverford is partnering with Genetworx to run its mass testing operations. Before the pandemic, Genetworx’s primary specialty had been personalizing medication to their patients’ genetic makeup, but since last March, their Virginia laboratory has become the site of their COVID-19 testing operation.

Students schedule their appointments through the Aura app, which was developed by Genetworx, according to their website, to help organizations “manage the COVID-19 compliance and health of their entire workforce, constituent, student, and/or patient population.”

The app has several functions, including tracking services designed to help with contact tracing, a QR code interface that could be used to verify testing compliance, and a daily symptom checker. Haverford is only using the app as a test scheduling interface and to communicate test results.

Genetworx is replacing Main Line Health as the provider of COVID tests for students, although Main Line Health will continue to test Haverford employees. College administrators explained that Genetworx was able to provide increased testing capacity and faster turnaround times, along with the convenience of the integrated Aura app.

“The ability to test all students on Monday and Tuesday allows us to receive results in a timely manner. This in turn allows us to make informed decisions about weekend activities for the community, opening up many more safe possibilities,” wrote Dean for Student Health & Learning Resources Kelly Wilcox in an email.

An email from Kathy McGovern, Director of Clinical Services, on February 18 explained that COVID screening is required every two weeks for all students accessing Haverford facilities for any reason. This included all residential and commuter students, as well as remote students who have been granted permission to enter the campus.

Another notice sent out earlier in January outlined the repercussions for not complying with mass testing and surveillance testing protocols. Students who miss mass testing will incur a $20 “no show” fee that will be placed on their student account. Those who continue to be non-compliant with testing protocols will have their OneCard deactivated until they are tested and Health Services receives their results; further non-compliance will lead to a mandatory withdrawal from classes and loss of campus access.

According to college administrators, students missing COVID testing appointments was a recurring problem last semester. “Four or five reminders still didn’t get some people to come for testing,” wrote Dean Bylander in a March 9 email. “So we went to a fine in the hopes that students would take this seriously and that it would increase compliance and overall community safety.”

Haverford has plans to increase its surveillance testing program, which takes place in the weeks between biweekly mass testing. “We will be scaling up to about 120 students per week and students will be chosen randomly based on employment settings, participation in certain activities (including athletics), and other factors,” said Dean Wilcox.

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