University of Kansas to decrease COVID-19 testing, will focus on targeted testing

KU campus
Posted at 4:16 PM, Sep 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-02 17:16:21-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The University of Kansas is ending a mass entry COVID-19 testing technique it's been using since students returned to campus and instead will take a more "targeted" approach, school officials announced Wednesday.

In August, the university announced it would require all students, staff and faculty to be tested for the virus before returning to the Lawrence and Edwards campuses for the fall semester.

As of Wednesday, the university reported 546 positive cases out of 22,563 total test results, a 2.42% overall positivity rate.

The university also conducted targeted testing of the Greek community as more new freshmen arrived. A total of 332 positive cases were identified from 3,962 tests results, a positivity rate of 8.38%.

Now, testing will decrease and the university will focus on "populations that are close contacts of positive individuals," Chancellor Doug Girod said in a press release.

"Moving forward, testing will include a larger proportion of symptomatic or close contact tests," Girod said.

Girod says he anticipates the positivity rate will increase on campus because the people being tested are those who were likely exposed to the virus.

Saliva testing will decrease to about 525 a week and will deployed in two ways: targeted testing at Watkins Health Services for confirmed contacts of positive individuals and randomized prevalence testing.

About 350 random prevalence tests will be conducted a week, based on "randomized samples of specific campus populations to help us track the spread of the virus," Girod said.

Students will receive emails to have the chance to volunteer for the random tests.

Girod said this new approach was chosen "to monitor the spread of COVID-19 in specific populations and provide insights that our Pandemic Medical Advisory Team can use as they make decisions and provide guidance regarding campus operations."

The university is also changing the way it will present data from testing.

"Next week, we are planning to launch a new approach to sharing our testing results and other COVID-19 related data, developed in collaboration with our local and community health partners," Girod said.

The university will work with Watkins Health Services to track the cases.