Ban lifted for UofR off-campus students following spike in COVID-19 cases

Ban lifted for UofR off-campus students following spike in COVID-19 cases

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - University of Richmond students who live off-campus are now allowed to return for classes on campus.

After a spike in COVID-19 cases during the first week of the spring semester, the university decided to have students who live off-campus attend classes virtually for two weeks.

The COVID-19 arrival screening test for all undergraduate students showed a higher positivity rate for off-campus students compared to those living on campus.

“Definitely seeing sort of a decrease or a plateau which is fantastic,” said Rebecca Lewis, Senior Epidemiologist for the Henrico County Health District on Monday.

According to UofR’s COVID-19 dashboard on Friday, there are 96 active cases at the university; 58 new cases were reported Jan. 31-Feb. 6, down 36% from the week before.

In order to manage those cases and possible exposures, those students are either in the isolation or quarantine units which were brought in at the beginning of the school year.

“I think it was a great measure they took before all this came into place,” Lewis said. “They were like we’re going to go ahead; we’re going to purchase these (modular units) and it has been really helpful.”

Meanwhile, new this semester, all non-remote students are now required to participate in regular prevalence testing. In the fall for prevalence testing, the university tested a certain percentage of the population, according to a spokeswoman.

“We began prevalence testing on Monday, Jan. 25, and have conducted 2,367 tests,” said Jeffrey Legro, Exec. Vice President and Provost of the university. “Our preliminary results show that 29 students have tested positive through prevalence testing, and we are experiencing a positivity rate of approximately 1.23% through Wednesday, Feb. 3.”

Legro added there was not a significant difference in cases among on-campus and off-campus students over a recent period of 10 days.

However, with off-campus students allowed to utilize campus resources as of Monday, the university is requiring all those individuals taking in-person classes to participate in prevalence testing starting the week of Feb. 8.

“I think they have a lot of precautions in place as they bring these students back,” Lewis said. “That should be able to give them a pretty good understanding of ‘is there something going on campus now that we’re allowing these students to come back?’”

According to Legro, every undergraduate student is being tested every other week and has already been assigned a test day and time for the entire semester.

“We will adjust the frequency of testing as conditions warrant,” a statement reads online. “The only exemption from the testing requirement is for students who have had a positive COVID-19 test in the 90 days prior to their scheduled testing appointment.”

“We’re really able to quickly identify these students who are positive, whether they’re symptomatic or not because it’s done through prevalence testing,” Lewis added.

Meanwhile, given the ongoing conditions not only in the community but on campus, the University will remain in an enhanced Red Stage through at least Feb. 28.

“We recognize everyone is fatigued by COVID-19,” Legro wrote. “As tired as we all may be, it is critical that we continue to practice unwavering commitment to the health and safety practices designed to protect our campus community.”

Additionally, prevalence testing is available for faculty and staff every other week.

For more information, click here.

Copyright 2021 WWBT. All rights reserved.