July 28, 2020
Albion College President Mathew B. Johnson has announced today an updated and comprehensive plan for the safe return to campus this fall. To that end, Dr. Johnson said the College is partnering with Testing Centers of America (TCA) to provide unprecedented testing and monitoring of the entire Albion College community—students, faculty and staff.
“Our COVID-19 testing and monitoring plan is comprehensive and on the forefront of public health responses to the current moment,” Dr. Johnson said. “One of the unique features of our testing plan is that it provides access for local residents and businesses to be included. This will help protect our wider community, as well as those on campus.”
TCA’s offering is unique in the marketplace because it combines sequential, large-scale testing with contact tracing and symptom tracking backed by a software platform and user-friendly app. While TCA is deeply engaged with municipalities, large enterprise customers and healthcare facilities, Albion College is one of a few select universities, colleges and public school systems to partner with the firm for this heightened approach to safe and thoughtful testing and tracking.
Dr. Johnson also said that the College has invested in new technology, new cleaning processes and protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE) for faculty, students and staff, and other environmental modifications like plexiglass barriers and automatic door-opening devices. Additionally, Albion has developed a public health training curriculum that all students, faculty and staff will need to complete before returning to campus.
All students will utilize Aura, an app developed by Nucleus Healthcare, that organizes the College’s COVID-19 testing and public health approach. The app will ask for daily health self-monitoring inputs prior to campus arrival in August and will offer daily reminders about common public health measures that everyone should be taking. Once students arrive on campus, the Aura app will provide regular community updates. All protected health information relating to an individual registered on the app will be treated as confidential. This information will be used only to provide the services agreed to and will not be disclosed to any other person or entity without the individual’s written permission.
Upon move-in, all students will be tested for COVID-19 . (Details on a physically distanced move-in, stretched across several days, was shared with students and their families on July 24.) All students will then self-quarantine for a three-day period or until negative test results are received. The TCA laboratory is compliant with Michigan requirements and will report confidential testing results into the Michigan Disease Surveillance System (MDSS). TCA has guaranteed no more than 72 hours for the return of test results from when the sample is received by the laboratory.
If test results are positive, impacted students will be moved immediately into campus isolation housing and their isolation will be managed under the guidance of the Calhoun County Public Health Department (CCPHD) as required by law. Students who are able to manage their symptoms on campus will remain in isolation housing until released by the county Health Department. Students who have more severe symptoms will be transferred to Oaklawn Hospital for care.
This initial period will provide an opportunity to reach a steady, managed state on campus from the beginning of the semester. Over the semester, when a student exhibits COVID-19 symptoms, they will be tested immediately and, if tested positive, will follow the same protocol as above. Routine and random testing will continue to be conducted throughout the semester.
Staff and faculty will also participate in the testing program. Employees will be tested prior to the first in-person contact on campus and prior to the beginning of returning to work. If test results are positive, staff and faculty will immediately be sent home to isolate and follow Calhoun County guidance for clearance to return to in-person work.
If the employee’s household exhibits symptoms consistent with COVID-19 or tests positive for COVID-19, the employee will be asked to isolate at home and follow Calhoun County guidance for clearance before returning to in-person work.
Routine and random testing will continue throughout the academic year.
Community members and partners will have the option to join the College’s platform and approach to testing.
Albion will provide updates online at albion.edu/together-safely.
“There is nothing more important than the health, safety and peace of mind of our students, faculty, staff and the Albion community,” Dr. Johnson said. “With these protocols and our continued diligence and professional guidance, we believe that even in these difficult times we can provide the quality liberal arts education that everyone expects and needs.”
Testing Centers of America, headquartered in King of Prussia, Penn., provides comprehensive, sequential, large-scale testing to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“We are extremely proud to be partnering with Albion College on this testing program,” said Audrey Greenberg, co-founder of TCA and a Michigan native. “Our comprehensive solution will help Albion quickly identify if COVID-19 is present in the community and reduce the virus from spreading through a critical combination of ongoing testing and contact tracing.”