October 28, 2020
Rowan University will administer free COVID-19 tests to students and employees before they leave campus for Thanksgiving break, an attempt to mitigate community spread of the coronavirus.
Saliva and nasal tests will be made available to the university's 6,000 students, regardless of whether they live on campus, beginning Nov. 16, the Glassboro, Gloucester County institution announced Tuesday. Employees will be able to access home COVID-19 testing kits.
"We know that the virus spreads most often among people who know each other — family members and friends," Rowan President Ali Houshmand said. "By offering testing, we can do our part to keep all members of our extended Rowan University family safe."
Students who test positive for the virus will be offered an opportunity to isolate in a dormitory set aside for quarantining. Those students will have their health monitored and be provided meals in the residence hall.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, and other health officials have warned that Thanksgiving gatherings could potentially cause spikes in COVID-19 cases. He has urged people to avoid gatherings with people from outside their household, particularly those that must travel.
"I think people should be very careful and prudent about social gatherings, particularly when members of the family might be at a risk because of their age or their underlying condition, Fauci told CBS News earlier this month. "Namely, you may have to bite the bullet and sacrifice that social gathering unless you're pretty certain that the people that you're dealing with are not infected."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released guidance that classifies common holiday activities into three categories based on COVID-19 risk. Attending large indoor gatherings with people from outside your household is considered a high-risk activity.
"Members of our campus community, particularly our students, have done a great job in taking measures to limit transmission of the virus at Rowan," Wellness Center director Scott Woodside said.
"By offering testing before Thanksgiving, we hope to continue to help them and their families stay well. They must, however, be vigilant about maintaining good health and safety practices when they are around family and friends."
Students who elect to remain on campus or nearby over the Thanksgiving weekend will have access to a Thanksgiving Day meal and other outdoor in-person programs, if public health factors deem them healthy and safe. Dining services also will be made available throughout the holiday break.
Rowan has been conducting in-person classes this semester amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The school has received strong praise from public health experts, including Dr. Deborah Birx, for its efforts to control the spread of the virus among the university community.