HACKETTSTOWN, NJ (Warren County) – Centenary University has added random rapid-result testing on campus to its arsenal of tactics to fight the spread of coronavirus. The University recently began testing a percentage of the campus population, taking an important step to enhance safety and fulfill its COVID-19 reopening plan, which was approved by the State of New Jersey.
Centenary University President Bruce Murphy, Ed.D., volunteered to be the first person tested, and Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students Kerry Mullins was the second. Both reported that their test results were negative. “We all need to cooperate with random testing for the safety of everyone here at Centenary,” Dr. Murphy said. “We’ve asked our students to do some things to protect others. Testing is a small thing we can all do for the good of our campus community and I wanted to be first to set the example.”
Director of Health Services Theresa A. Lord-Stout explained that the rapid point of care antigen tests required for the random testing were backordered due to high demand across the nation. Centenary received its order two weeks ago. Students who elected to take classes on campus for the fall semester—some 66% of enrolled Centenary students—signed a pledge agreeing to adhere to safety requirements outlined by the University, which includes random COVID-19 testing. In addition, the University provides on-campus diagnostic testing using a rapid antigen test for symptomatic individuals or those who have been exposed to COVID-19. Diagnostic testing requires a second confirmatory test that takes between one and three days to receive results. All students who present for diagnostic testing must isolate until confirmatory results are received.
The University’s newest testing protocol randomly selects members of the campus community, who are asked to report to the Wellness Center for Counseling and Health. Testing involves participants self-collecting samples with a nasal swab and placing the swab into a test tube. Wellness Center staff then process the sample, with results returned in about 15 minutes. To date, the random testing has returned no positive results, Lord-Stout said.
“Our students have been very cooperative. We’ve even had some volunteer to be tested, and we’re very grateful to them,” said Lord-Stout, adding that both resident students and commuters will be included in random testing. “So far, all of the results have been negative, but we’re ready in case anyone comes back positive.”
Lord-Stout noted that a state-approved procedure involving additional testing, quarantine, and contact tracing in conjunction with the Warren County Department of Health will take place in the event of a positive test result. “Right now, there’s a low pre-test probability here at Centenary,” she said. “We’ve had no known cases on campus since the return of our students. But we can’t be complacent: Just because we don’t know of any cases, it doesn’t mean that we have no positives. In everything we do from a health perspective, we’re erring on the side of caution.