Students, faculty, and staff,
I want to share some information and updates with you now that we’ve reviewed some initial results from our testing efforts as our community returns to campus.
We have posted initial results from our community COVID-19 saliva testing for the Lawrence and Edwards campuses. The results show the total tests administered and positive results for both students and faculty/staff, along with positivity rates for each group.
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, 89 people have tested positive out of 7,088 entry test results received, for a positivity rate of 1.25%. Of the 89 positive cases, 87 are students and two are faculty and staff. We plan to post additional updates on the website on Tuesday of next week.
When we decided to move forward with broad entry testing of our community, we knew that inevitably we would receive some positive results. This positivity rate is in line with what we’ve expected and prepared for as we began this process in consultation with our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team.
We’ve conducted this testing upon return to campus before the beginning of on-campus activities and classes for two key reasons:
First, we want to identify positive cases early and ensure that they are isolating appropriately away from campus. Those who test positive receive instructions to self-isolate, in accordance with guidelines from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, along with additional instructions from Watkins Health Services. All members of our community must follow these directions closely.
Second, we want to establish baseline levels of positivity rates among our campus populations to determine appropriate safety, infection prevention, education, and testing efforts moving forward. We plan to continue more targeted testing effort and random sampling of our population after this initial round of testing.
In addition to the numbers from the early rounds of testing, we have also identified a few trends.
A large majority of the 87 overall student positives have come from our fraternity and sorority community. Last night, I met with leaders in these communities along with other campus officials to stress the importance of adhering to the health and safety guidelines and rules we’ve laid out while laying out some additional policy recommendations. And we’ll follow up with these groups with targeted additional testing efforts as needed.
Also of note, our staged move-in process at KU Student Housing helped to identify positive cases in the on-campus housing community earlier so these individuals can isolate at their permanent addresses before coming to campus. Thanks to that preparation, so far we do not have any cases isolating in student housing. We expect that will likely change as new students continue to move in, and we are prepared to offer spaces for those students who need to self-isolate.
We know what works to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wear a mask. Stay six feet apart from others. Wash your hands frequently. Use our CVKey app to check your symptoms for COVID-19 each day. Refrain from hosting social gatherings and events. And remember to think not just about yourself, but about the good of the community, in every decision you make.
We know that challenges with following these requirements are not limited to any one group in particular. If we are to open successfully and avoid moving more fully online as other universities across the country have done in recent days, all of us – students, faculty, and staff alike – will have to be the very best versions of ourselves.
As a final reminder: our initial round of testing is mandatory for students, faculty, and staff who plan to be on campus in Lawrence or Overland Park before Sept. 7. If you have not yet set an appointment to receive a test through a drive-up site, please visit https://protect.ku.edu/covid-19-testing-information and sign up soon. Students living in KU Student Housing will receive testing through the move-in process and do not need to sign up for an appointment. Those on the KU Edwards Campus should refer to specific testing instructions for that campus.
During the summer, so many of our faculty and staff have spent countless hours to prepare for the coming days. It is up to each of us to determine our success moving forward.
Douglas A. Girod