Over a month has passed since the university created an asymptomatic testing program for university community members — which will end this month — but the majority of students, faculty and staff invited to participate are ignoring the invitation.
The Sentinel Testing Program offers free asymptomatic COVID-19 tests to students, faculty and staff on campus. According to the Sentinel Testing Program overview, the program is intended to track and understand the asymptomatic presence of coronavirus in the Oxford community.
The overview also states that the testing program will also enable the university to predict the number of asymptomatic carriers, better understand the coronavirus spread and adjust protocols based on the base rate.
Approximately 21,952 university community members have been invited to receive a free test, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. Only 2,589 of those invited have received tests.
Students have received tests at a much lower rate than faculty and staff. Out of the 18,630 students invited to receive a test, only 8.99% actually received one. Over 16,000 students did not respond, and 620 opted out.
In addition to students, 2,057 staff members and 1,265 faculty received invites, and 27.13% and 28.14% received tests, respectively.
Out of the 1,032 asymptomatic tests that have been given to students, faculty and staff, only four tested positive.
The university created the testing program in early September to gain a grasp on what percentage of people on campus are asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus. Provost Noel Wilkin has sent numerous email updates to the university community, urging members to participate in the program.
“It is important to note that a key input informing our decision-making related to hosting events and activities is asymptomatic testing, which gives us a better sense of the presence of the virus in our community,” Wilkin wrote in an email on Oct. 2.
Dr. Jean Gispen, a physician with University Health Services, wrote a letter to the editor of The Daily Mississippian encouraging community members to participate.
Students, faculty and staff receive an invite to be tested through their university email account. If an individual decides to be tested, they must first complete a survey to be deemed eligible, then go to the Ford Center parking lot at drive-thru or walk-up stations.