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UCF conducts randomized COVID-19 testing to students living in on-campus dorms and Greek Life, but not to students living in off-campus housing. Randomized testing officially began on Sept. 21 with the first 59 tests being students chosen who are part of Greek Life.

UCF conducted randomized COVID-19 testing to students living in on-campus dorms and Greek Life, but not students living in off-campus housing. 

“Conducting random testing is an established public health practice for pandemic response, and this was part of UCF’s original reopening plan,” said Michael Diechen, associate vice president of Student Health Services.

Randomized testing officially began on Sept. 21 with the first 59 tests administered to Greek Life students. Seven of those tests came back positive, UCF spokesperson Chad Binette said. 

From Oct. 12 through Oct. 14, 70 tests were done on students living in residence halls and 15 came back positive. The next round of testing inside residence halls took place from Oct. 26 to Oct. 27, which revealed three of the 69 students tested were COVID-19 positive. The most recent round of randomized testing was done on faculty members on campus from Nov. 12 through Nov. 14 and none of the 45 staff tested came back positive.

Randomized testing was initiated by the university in hopes of catching a trend in a rising number of cases.

“The only way we can really know what is going on is through targeted or random required testing,” said Eric Schrimshaw, chair of the department of population health sciences. “It can’t be voluntary, otherwise the only people who would show up would be the people who think they have nothing to worry about.” 

Students and faculty who were selected for randomized testing had three days to go to parking garage A and get tested at no charge. 

Untouched by randomized testing are students who live off campus but still take in-person classes.

“The testing will focus on groups of students, faculty and staff who are most likely to have interactions with campus,” UCF spokeswoman Heather Smith said.

Tara Lyse, a sophomore health science major who lives on campus, said she believes students living in off-campus housing should be tested. 

“I do think it would be fair, because then a wide variety of different students would be tested on,” Lyse said. 

But for some students who live off-campus like Kayla Biles, sophomore early child education major, the idea of randomized testing coming to them does not sound appealing. 

“I think students with symptoms or ones who have been exposed should go get themselves tested,” Biles said. “Randomly testing students does not get every student who is exposed.” 

Biles, who lives in Knights Circle — a UCF affiliated housing complex — does not want to see off-campus housing being tested. But, if UCF is conducting randomized testing, she said it would make sense to do so on all affiliated housing, not just those on-campus.

Randomized testing is only one modality of what health officials at UCF hope becomes a larger testing strategy. 

“This really is a must-step for us,” said Dr. Jane Gibson, chair of the department of clinical sciences. “I think the random testing is one piece of a larger equation that includes all other testing modalities.”

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