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Return to Spring COVID-19 Test Results Announced

February 25, 2021, 6:00 p.m. CST

Faculty, staff and on-campus students at the Bryan-College Station campus were required to test upon return for the spring semester. Off-campus students were encouraged to test. The rationale, as explained in a pre-holiday message, was to rapidly identify asymptomatic cases to isolate positive cases and slow the spread on campus.

Results for faculty/staff January testing:

  • About 13,300 non-student employees were asked to participate in Return to Campus testing:
    • This included 9,351 staff, 3,482 faculty, and residents, postdocs and contract workers made up the remainder
  • 11,421 (86%) individuals responded to the testing invitation and completed the required registration:
    • 82% of staff and 93% of faculty responded
    • 2,549 of the registered respondents were exempted from testing because of various acceptable reasons: physical location remote for the duration of the semester, alternate work locations (for student employees), or having received a positive COVID-19 test in the 90 days prior to start of classes.
  • A total of 9,981 employees completed COVID-19 PCR tests in January 2021, which is 75% of the employment roster, regardless of exemptions requested (some qualifying for exemption still followed through with testing).
  • Breakdown of who tested:
    • 81% of faculty (2,810) and 72% of staff (6,760)
    • 84% of postdocs, residents and fellows (238)
  • 8,894 employees (94%), of those not exempted from the testing program analysis completed the testing requirement with a 1.3% positivity rate for SARS-CoV-2.

Results for student January testing:

  • 50,391 students were invited to participate in Return to Campus testing:
    • 10,220 residents of university housing; subject to mandatory testing
    • 11,988 student employees; subject to mandatory testing
  • 29,338 (58%) students responded to the testing invitation and completed registration:
    • Overall 83% response rate among mandatory group: 86% of housing residents and 81% of student employees
    • 5,744 of registered respondents requested exemption from testing
  • A total of 25,292 students completed COVID-19 PCR tests in January 2021, which is 50% of the invited student roster, including students who were considered exempt from testing but opted to test anyway.
  • Breakdown of students who completed testing:
    • 84% of all housing residents
    • 75% of all student workers
    • 45% of all undergrads
    • 66% of all graduate/professional students
    • Overall, 50% of all non-exempted students
  • A total of 27,680 students completed the online registration process, reported they had not tested positive in the 90 days before classes (since Oct. 20, 2020), and were eligible for Testing Program analysis; 21, 494 (78%) completed testing, and 2.1% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2

Other findings for Return to Campus Testing

A brief questionnaire was sent to assess local epidemiology and support policy and procedure decisions, including information about campus interactions, housing plans, demographics, and symptom status at the time of testing: Completed by 23,004 (46%) students and 9,959 (74%) faculty/staff

  • 7% of faculty/staff and 12% of students tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020:
    • Proportion reported during the most recent three months: 68% of faculty/staff and 50% of student infections
  • Anticipate a high rate of vaccination in the campus community: 67% of faculty/staff and 74% of students plan to get fully vaccinated
  • Most plan to attend campus in person for work/school in combination with remote activities: 57% of faculty/staff and 77% of students; a minority (21% of faculty/staff and 20% of students) will engage remotely/online only
  • 5 faculty/staff and 13 students with past infections (prior to Oct. 20, 2020) tested positive again in January 2021, a reminder that re-infection is a phenomenon to expect and proactively protect against (i.e. continued protective behaviors whether previously infected or previously vaccinated)

Super Bowl, Valentine's Day, winter storm impact being assessed

Due to interruptions to normal testing protocols, the university is assessing possible impacts from Super Bowl gatherings, Valentine's Day, and the winter storm where groups may have experienced increased exposure.

"Increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 indoors is just the reality of sheltering in place as members of our community sought refuge from at times lack of power and water," said Dr. Shawn Gibbs, dean of the School of Public Health and designated response lead for the university. "It is essential not to shame or point blame at any uptick, some of which we're seeing this week. We encourage all to test this week, and we encourage all to make it a habit and test every two weeks."

The university has extended hours and locations for testing this week. Students and employees can know their status and can quickly isolate.

Employees and students are encouraged to test at one of the five Texas A&M testing locations offering the saliva test. These locations do not require an appointment or insurance.

For a continually-updated list of testing sites and hours, visit the Texas A&M testing locations page.