Alabama testing all college students before new semester starts

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The state of Alabama is planning to test more than 200,000 college students before they head back to campus this fall.

More than 50 colleges and universities are participating in the plan known as Guidesafe. The University of Alabama System is leading the testing. According to Chancellor Finis St. John the plan includes 13 sites around the state. “People can go have those tests taken and for students who live out of state, we’re making kits where they can return samples to have those tested before the semester starts,” Alabama Chancellor Finis St. John said. “The testing is funded with $750,000 dollars in money from the Federal Cares Act.”

UAB’s Dr. Michael Saag is co-chair the Guidesafe Task Force along with State Health Officer Scott Harris. Saag says all students will be tested in a 14-day period before starting school.

“We had to set up a huge platform of testing capabilities that did not exist previously, handle the logistics of where the tests will be collected, transportation and then resulting, in getting the results back to the students and the campus,” Saag said.

If a student tests positive they can isolate at home before coming to campus. At Miles College in Fairfield, students and staff will find tablets mounted across campus to help identify anyone with COVID-19 symptoms.

In addition to testing students prior to their return, the Guidesafe program will include sentinel surveillance to uncover unseen transmission. Saag said 2.5% of the total population will be tested randomly for the presence of the virus.


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