When former Gov. Gary Herbert declared a new state of emergency in November to fight the rising incidences of coronavirus, Utah’s public colleges and universities were asked to develop a plan to test all in-person students for the virus at least once a week. That directive seems to be gone. Under the new plan released earlier this month by the Utah System of Higher Education (USHE), the weekly testing is not included.
Instead, students will all be tested at the beginning of each semester and then randomly after that. Surveillance testing and testing of symptomatic students will continue. The new plan was developed after the state released its public health order in December that removed a requirement for college and university students to be tested at least once every 14 days. The testing plan applies to students who live in on-campus housing or are taking at least one class on campus.
“We worked closely with state public health leaders and those at Utah’s colleges and universities to develop a more refined approach to testing that requires fewer tests and greater flexibility for our institutions to focus on areas that will have the greatest impact,” said Dave R. Woolstenhulme, state commissioner of higher education, in a press release. “We are building on what we learned this past fall and are confident these steps will help keep our entire higher education community safe over the coming months. It’s important we stay vigilant in our efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19 as we return for a new semester.”
In addition to public schools, the new USHE plan also applies to private universities with more than 10,000 students, it said. That would include Brigham Young University in Provo but not Salt Lake City’s Westminster College because of its smaller enrollment.