Avoid COVID-19 Testing Fatigue

September 30, 2020

Dear Students and Parents,

We are now five weeks into the semester, and I’m grateful for the ways you have adjusted to the challenging circumstances caused by COVID-19. Although the “new normal” has required us to adapt much about how we approach our coursework and community life, our commitment to providing you with a transformational education remains the same. I am encouraged to see the Baylor Family rising to the occasion.

At Baylor, we have been randomly testing approximately 5% of our campus community each week throughout the semester — about 250 on-campus students, 480 off-campus students, 175 faculty and staff working on-campus, and 300 contract staff. We continue to update our policies and practices based on the latest scientific information and health guidance. You may recall that White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx visited our campus last week, and she shared our concern of keeping the Waco community safe. For this reason, Dr. Birx suggested greater testing of our off-campus students because of your more frequent interaction with the greater Waco community. This week we began the weekly random testing of 10% of off-campus students.

Across the country, professionals who work on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation are hearing a new term: “testing fatigue.” Its meaning is self-explanatory. People are growing tired of the testing protocols developed to prevent and mitigate the spread of the virus. This weariness is a very natural response to our unusual situation. I can empathize with testing fatigue.

However, we have found Baylor’s testing strategy to be extremely important in reducing our number of COVID-19 cases from a high of 477 on Sept. 3 to 59 active cases as of earlier today. Random testing provides critical information that helps our Health Management Team and other key decision-makers understand the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 in the Baylor community and respond quickly to where we may have clusters of cases that need investigation. The bottom line is we need to test frequently to keep the campus healthy and meet our goal of remaining open and vibrant until Thanksgiving Break.

As President Livingstone mentioned a few weeks ago, it is vitally important for you to utilize Baylor’s COVID-19 testing facilities and not those in Waco or surrounding areas.

  • Regardless of where you test – including in another county – a positive result will automatically result in contact tracing, either by public officials or Baylor personnel.
  • A Baylor test allows our staff to more quickly provide resources and support for both on-campus and off-campus students.
  • Baylor COVID-19 tests are provided at no-cost to students.
  • If students test off-campus, they need to send their test results – positive or negative – to Baylor Health Services.
  • Additionally, when a student completes a period of isolation or quarantine, Baylor issues a “certificate of clearance,” providing students proof that they may resume regular activities.

I’d like to add my voice to that of our hard-working Health Management Team and encourage you to continue to adhere to the policies we’ve put in place to keep the community safe. Keep wearing your masks, practicing hand hygiene, maintaining social distancing, and, yes, testing when requested. Each of these practices provides a layer of prevention in the “Swiss Cheese Model” we are following to complete the fall semester successfully.

Sincerely,

Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D.
Provost

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