North Central College conducting weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing

  • North Central College has begun weekly surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff members to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus on the Naperville campus. Administrators say about 5% of the general college population and 10% of students living in residence halls will be selected at random to be tested.

      North Central College has begun weekly surveillance testing of students, faculty and staff members to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus on the Naperville campus. Administrators say about 5% of the general college population and 10% of students living in residence halls will be selected at random to be tested. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer, January 2020

 
 
Updated 9/4/2020 4:25 PM

North Central College has launched a weekly surveillance testing process for students, faculty and staff members as part of its ongoing strategy to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus on the Naperville campus.

Members of the college community are being selected at random for the testing, in which about 5% of the general campus population and 10% of students living in residence halls are tested, administrators said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The process is "off to a great start" and will continue through the fall semester, said Kimberly Sluis, vice president for student affairs and strategic initiatives.

Individuals selected for the surveillance testing are notified via email and asked to choose a 15-minute time slot on their designated testing day, according to communication from the college. A similar random testing process is being implemented daily at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

North Central College also conducted an entry testing phase for specific student groups arriving to campus, administrators said, and ongoing testing procedures are in place for symptomatic students, as well as student athletes and athletic staff members participating in fall sports.

Twenty students have tested positive for the coronavirus since mid-August, eight of whom had not been on campus since the spring semester and were isolating at home, according to data on the college's website, which includes self-reported tests and those reported through the college's process. Those who had arrived to campus this semester are quarantined, either at home or in designated on-campus housing.

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No positive cases have been reported among faculty or staff members, the data shows.

Three out of 444 tests administered Aug. 10 and 16 came back positive, as did four of the 360 tests conducted Aug. 25. College testing data shows 258 tests were administered Wednesday, the results from which are expected to be released soon and will "provide an important glimpse into the health of our broader campus community," Sluis said.

The college is well prepared to handle the challenges of the pandemic, she said, noting campus community members worked throughout the summer to develop plans and protocols for in-person fall instruction.

Students have been warned they could face serious consequences -- up to suspension or dismissal from North Central College -- if they fail to comply with health and safety expectations through actions such as hosting unsafe gatherings or other "egregious violations" of guidelines, administrators said.

"Our goal from the beginning has been that we will support a community where individuals hold each other accountable for healthy behavior," Sluis said. "That strategy is working well. However, we have also been clear that individuals who put the community at risk will be held accountable."

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