Testing Protocols for Beacon Community

We each have a role in ensuring a safe and healthy campus

In examining how to best return to campus, the fundamentals of what have kept us safe, individually and collectively, remain a top priority for us all: (1) wearing a cloth mask, (2) maintaining proper physical distancing standards, (3) frequently washing our hands, and (4) maintaining good hygiene — taking good care and ensuring the cleanliness of our private and public spaces, answering the daily wellness questions before going to work or class, and staying at home when not feeling well.

For each of these actions, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local, county, and state public officials have affirmed that our individual responsibility and our fidelity to daily compliance will have a significant positive impact on our community.

By taking ownership of what we each control and our own actions, we, collectively, will make notable impact on our community’s public health and well-being.

The fall semester is a testament to the success of the College’s protocol and the cooperation and concern for others shown by students, faculty and staff.  Beacon will continue to follow and update these protocols as necessary and as recommended by the CDC, state, county, and local public officials or other recognized authorities throughout the spring semester.

Updating policies and protocols to ensure we address a rapidly changing landscape

That is why our COVID-19 task force has continued to work diligently to develop comprehensive policies and choose tools to thoughtfully prepare for the desired return of our students.

Given the evolving landscape surrounding the virus, the College has decided to augment the work of the task force and the advice we have received from the CDC, state, county, and local public health officials by commissioning a professional support and review team. The team — that will likely become a fixture at Beacon well beyond this current health crisis — will be chaired by our recently appointed trustee, Al Moffett, M.D. The team will enhance and monitor the work of the task force and the College in implementing and, as new evidence-based guidance becomes available, updating our campus health and safety policies and protocols. This external team will bring to bear upon our collective efforts on campus the CDC, state, county, and local expertise and resources of public health, medicine, local hospitals, mental health, and emergency management.

Implementing sequenced, rapid testing to further ensure a baseline of health in our community

Even though  the CDC didn’t recommend that  America’s institutions of higher education practice entry COVID testing of all returning students, faculty, and staff, the administration of Beacon College believes that providing testing strengthens our existing protocols. Requiring testing for all students, faculty, and staff allows Beacon to establish a foundation and baseline of health. In turn, this serves the community as the starting point for adhering to the protocols. More telling, doing this exhibits a commitment to the responsibilities, we all owe to each other, in faithfully following our daily wellness checks and rituals. For, in the intersection and commitment of all of this, will be our community’s ability to limit exposure and the person-to-person transmission of the virus.

Additionally, all students, faculty, and staff must submit to testing prior to the start of the semester.

For students, this means arranging COVID-19 testing at home, at their own expense, and producing test results from a test no more than seven (7) days prior to arriving on campus. Students must isolate at home once tested. Once on campus, students immediately will be re-tested, and, given that the College is also practicing surveillance testing, students will be re-tested approximately two weeks after their arrival.

Faculty and staff must undergo the same test that students will receive on campus. This and a follow-up surveillance test will be performed at no cost to employees.

TESTING PROTOCOL FOR ALL STUDENTS

Pre-arrival testing requirement for students

All students must take a COVID-19 test prior to returning to campus for the spring semester.

Prior to traveling to campus for the spring semester, students must provide an official copy of a negative COVID-19 test result for a test administered no more than seven (7) days prior to their return to campus – the test (antigen, antibody or PCR) must be performed, with results documented for presentation upon entry to the College or sent in advance to mybeaconhealth@beaconcollege.edu by a qualified (public health authorized) provider. Students are urged to isolate at home following the COVID-19 test until their departure for campus to begin the spring semester.

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 must remain at home until he/she is able to clear the College’s extended protocols. These students can participate in classes and support services remotely until they are healthy enough to return.

Upon arrival at the College (and to ensure entry to campus for the spring semester), all students and employees (including any contracted provider of services) must be tested at the 2021 spring semester and cleared by the College consistent with the protocols administered during the fall semester.  This FDA-authorized test determines the presence of COVID-19 antibodies due to recent or long-term exposure to the virus. The College will defray the cost of the test. It delivers results within 15 minutes. As a further safeguard, an additional surveillance test will be performed approximately two weeks after spring classes commence. Any student or employee testing positive immediately will be isolated, and the appropriate protocol will be initiated and followed. A reminder will be sent to all students, parents, and employees during the week of January 4, 2021.

We must establish a baseline of health for our students entering campus — and, upon their arrival, mount a collective, diligent effort to comply with our protocols so we all may remain safe and healthy.

Process & Timelines:

  1. All spring semester returning and new students, will be serology (antibody) tested immediately upon their arrival on campus. Testing is scheduled for the dates of January 14-18, 2021.*   Students who do not live on campus also must be tested during this period.
  2. For any student who tests positive for active COVID antibodies (IgM) during this testing, he/she will be isolated and re-tested immediately. Any person testing positive a second time will either: 1) immediately be seen by a physician, isolated in a designated campus residence and be allowed to take classes remotely; or 2) return home, if appropriate, until a ten- (10-) day waiting period and re-testing is completed.
  3. All students on-campus for the spring semester will undergo a “surveillance” (follow-up) COVID antibody test approximately two weeks after the initial testing conducted upon arrival as further protection to themselves, other students and employees.  For any student who tests positive for active COVID antibodies (IgM) during this testing, he/she will be isolated and re-tested immediately. Any person testing positive a second time will either: 1) immediately be seen by a physician, isolated in a designated campus residence and be allowed to take classes remotely; or 2) return home, if appropriate, until a ten- (10-) day waiting period and re-testing is completed.
  4. Finally, the College will practice the surveillance testing method to establish as comprehensive a baseline as possible. Thus, all students will be re-tested using the serology (antibody) protocol approximately two weeks after their arrival.  Additional testing and/or updated testing protocol will be communicated at a later date.

TESTING PROTOCOL FOR ALL FACULTY AND STAFF

Faculty and staff testing

To ensure we work to create that baseline of health in our community, all employees also will be tested.

Employees must submit to the same FDA-authorized serology (antibody) entry test students take.  It will be administered by a registered nurse.  Free to employees, this test, and a follow-up surveillance test, promise rapid results.

All 12-month employees — and any staff or faculty on campus prior to the arrival of the students for the spring semester — must be tested Monday, January 4, 2021 or Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

All remaining faculty and staff must be tested prior to returning to campus during the scheduled student testing, January 14-18, 2021.  Please contact Linda Allison in the Office of Human Resources (lallison@beaconcollege.edu or 352-638-9820) if you have questions or a scheduling conflict.

Any employee testing positive will be informed confidentially at the testing site and the appropriate protocol for this circumstance will be immediately initiated.

Process & Timelines:

  1. All 12-month employees with current and/or regular access to the campus will be serology tested during the period:  January 4, 2021 or January 5, 2021.
  2. Any faculty or staff who plan to be on campus prior to the scheduled student testing on January 14-18 must be tested January 4 or 5, 2021.
  3. All remaining faculty and staff must be serology (antibody) tested during the scheduled student testing, January 14-18, 2021.
  4. All faculty, staff, and contracted services, will be re-tested approximately two (2) weeks later, along with all students on campus.
  5. For any employee who tests positive for active COVID-19 antibodies (IgM), he/she will be isolated and re-tested immediately. Any person testing positive will be required to have a follow-up PCR test at a clinical location and, unless compelling data is provided otherwise, must isolate away from campus for a ten- (10-) day period.

*Note:  Further details of the testing during January 14-18, 2021 will follow at a later date.