University of Vermont aims to test 10K students in coming days

Published: Aug. 24, 2020 at 12:20 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - University of Vermont students will return to their residence halls on campus starting Tuesday. And with that comes a massive increase in testing. University officials estimate about 500 to 800 people were tested Monday at the Davis Center. By the end of the week it’ll be about 10,000. Students we spoke with say it’s going smoothly.

UVM seniors Paige Brower and Gabby Altounian are unpacking gift bottles of new swag that include a trio of green and gold masks and hand sanitizer.

"They fit nice!" said Brower.

"We were just talking about how we needed new masks. So, this is my only one at the moment," Altounian added.

They got the gift bottles when they were tested for COVID-19. Students were assigned staggered testing times alphabetically by last name. When they showed up, they were told to blow their noses. And then inside, staff members walked them through the process of taking a sample from both nostrils.

"The swab felt fine. You don't actually have to insert it as high up as it seems like some people have been," said Brower, a nursing student.

The tests are for students who do not have symptoms of COVID-19. If students do have symptoms, they have to contact the university’s health center and they’ll be referred to testing at a different location.

“It’s going fantastic,” said Kevin Hytten, who manages the COVID-19 testing. He says it takes five minutes or less for students to complete the testing. And the University gets the results back from a lab in Massachusetts in 24 hours. “All positive results are returned with a call from student health services. So, if you don’t hear from student health services within about 48 hours or so you’re fine.

Altounian and Brower are hoping they don't get a phone call. They said they think the university is doing everything it can to keep COVID out of campus. "As of right now, it seems like their policies are doing what they want, but we'll see what next week brings," Brower said.

"They understand that it's going to be an unconventional semester ahead, and they're trying to support us, so that's nice of them," Altounian said.

Since August 6 the university has run about 1,600 COVID-19 tests for students on campus. Of those, seven have come back positive.

The on-campus move-in normally happens on a weekend. To reduce the number of students and families on campus at any one time, it will occur over several days this year.

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