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Alabama initiating “most aggressive” higher education re-entry plan in the country

Over 200,000 students will be tested in the GuideSafe Student Entry Pilot testing implemented by the Alabama Department of Public Health.
Published: Jul. 27, 2020 at 5:17 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - “This is the largest testing project that is directed toward college campuses and its all of our state colleges and universities both public and private,” said Dr. Michael Saag, Professor of Medicine, UAB Division of Infectious Diseases.

Over 200,000 students will be tested in the GuideSafe Student Entry Pilot testing implemented by the Alabama Department of Public Health. ADPH has tasked two successful groups with seeing the project run smoothly. UAB hospitals and their network partners and the Brunos Event Team; which handles large gathering events like game day for Alabama football, the sec baseball tournament and the regions tradition golf tournament.

“We’re going to try to start with as clean of a slate as we can on every campus, emphasize distancing like we do for everyone, every student is going to be asked to wear a mask as well as the staff and the faculty on the campus to try to mitigate the spread while they’re there,” said Dr. Saag.

July 26th kicked off the GuideSafe testing platform, starting with the University of Alabama and UAB. On August 4th ten other university sites and the Hoover Met will be a testing site for students to get tested prior to returning to campus. It is likely out of state students or in-state students returning to campus sooner will receive a test kit in the mail with instructions.

“Students will receive an email notification from their university regarding the procedure and go to a website, guidesafe.org, and will pick based on the geography of where they are, not necessarily based off of where they go to school and they’ll go and get tested, get the results properly back and know before they get to campus whether they are negative or positive,” said Gene Hallman, President and CEO, Bruno Event Team.

Supported by $30 million of Cares Act money, GuideSafe is to enhance safety on Alabama’s campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is all being done free to the student,” Hallman said.

This platform will use a PCR base test. Between 10 to 15 thousand students will be tested each day as they return to campus over a three and a half week period.

“This will be a very convenient process, one where they schedule their appointments on the hour, so there’s not an overload at any point,” Hallman said. “The test itself is self-administered and it is the light nasal swab, not the deep nasal swab maybe you heard about. and the student swabs the test and put it in a test tube and 24-48 hours they will have their result.”

All students must get tested within 14 days prior to their arrival on campus. They must receive a negative result before returning.

Students have the private option of getting tested through their own doctor, but it will be at their own expense. If chosen to do so, they will need to send results to their campus’ Student Health Center.

Copyright 2020 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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