UW-System prepared to test 350,000 students for COVID-19 during fall semester

MADISON, Wis. — The UW-System says it is prepared to test up to 350,000 students for coronavirus during the fall semester, following the allocation of $32 million from the office of Gov. Tony Evers.

In a release from the UW System, leaders say Evers allocated the money from the federal CARES Act, including nearly $18 million for 350,000 test kits and $6 million for PPE associated with the testing.

Excluding UW-Madison, these funds allow for PCR, or nasal swab testing of up to 34,000 students who show COVID-19 symptoms. In addition, the funding will pay for 317,000 antigen tests that will be given bi-weekly to students living in residence halls.

“Right now, we’ve got what we think is a very adequate plan,” said former Governor and interim Systems President Tommy Thompson. “We think we’ve taken pretty much all the requirements necessary from the CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services at the state level to open up safely.”

The testing adds to plans for masks in classrooms, smaller class sizes, and a push for online classes at UW campuses.

One group not included in the testing, however, will be teachers and faculty members. Thompson says this group will be expected to test with their own doctors or healthcare providers.

Thompson says should students test positive or there be an outbreak in a residence area, a student could be placed in a temporary quarantine dorm. Should that space fill up, he says the school would place the student in a nearby hotel until they no longer are displaying symptoms.