Here’s how colleges and universities across RI are handling COVID-19 testing

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Many college students are beginning to make their way back to campus for the fall semester, but when it comes to COVID-19 testing, not all schools are following the same protocols.

Roger Williams University (RWU) and the University of Rhode Island (URI) are testing students when they arrive on campus. Providence College (PC) is asking all students to provide documentation of a negative test before returning to campus.

All three colleges said they will continue to test students throughout the semester. PC said they expect to administer between 150 and 200 tests per day as part of the school’s surveillance testing program.

RWU said it will be testing students and staff twice weekly, including the university’s law students. The university plans to have a “rigorous surveillance testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases” and, as of Monday, has identified 7 positive cases, five of which are students and two are staff members.

URI will also be conducting general surveillance testing of the community and said they anticipate hundreds of tests per week.

Both Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) will test students at the beginning of the year, and both schools will continue to test students and staff throughout the semester.

RISD plans to run surveillance testing of asymptomatic community members throughout the semester, while Brown plans to test students weekly.

Brown said it will conduct an estimated 11,000 tests per week. The university has implemented a contact tracing program to inform people who’ve come into contact with individuals who have COVID-19.

Bryant University is asking students and faculty to monitor themselves using its new “Health Checker” app. The university said it will also be testing students who are attending in-person classes and staff weekly, conducting an estimated 4,000 tests per week.

Joseph Wendelken, spokesman for the Rhode Island Department of Health, said they could see an increase in testing numbers from college students, but “a few of the private universities have set up their own arrangements with out-of-state labs to process their tests.”

“So while that data would get incorporated into our data, it wouldn’t tax our testing infrastructure,” he said.

The Community College Rhode Island (CCRI) isn’t establishing an on-campus testing protocol, but rather plans to screen anyone who comes to campus for COVID-19 symptoms.

Johnson & Wales University  (JWU) and Rhode Island College (RIC) will also be screening staff and students. RIC is requiring athletes and resident assistants to be tested prior to returning to campus, and JWU has created an app students can download to help with screening.

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