Triumvirate Partners with Worcester Polytechnic Institute to Provide COVID-19 Testing on Campus
A critical need for colleges during the pandemic has been the development of virus mitigation and containment measures on campus. As it prepared to resume in-person activities for the 2020-21 academic year last August, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) implemented a rigorous COVID testing program for students, faculty, and staff. With safety in mind, WPI partnered with Triumvirate to conduct tests 5 days a week in WPI’s Harrington Auditorium as part of the university’s health and safety protocol, which also included requiring everyone on campus to wear face coverings, ensuring proper social distancing of 6 feet, and avoiding gatherings.
WPI’s testing program involves three phases: pre-arrival (before coming to campus at the start of the semester); onboarding (upon arrival); and routine, ongoing testing throughout the semester. During the holiday and mid-term breaks, students were encouraged to remain on campus; those who chose to travel were tested again before returning to campus or quarantined upon return, in accordance with Massachusetts travel guidelines.
At the start of the academic year, WPI partnered with the Broad Institute, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biomedical and genomic center, to provide testing on campus. The university began using an observed self-administered swab kit to conduct 1,400-1,800 tests per day. Triumvirate manages the day-to-day on-site testing operations at WPI.
By the 2021 Spring semester, the Broad Institute had introduced unobserved self-administered swab tests. The unobserved tests reduced the need for on-site observers, allowing a higher volume of tests to be collected throughout the week. Paired with aggressive contact tracing and mandatory isolation for students who test positive and quarantine for their contacts, the university has been able to minimize the rate of positive COVID cases on campus during the 2020-21 academic year.
Supporting a Safe Return to Campus
The university’s current COVID testing plan involves testing all students and employees who have access to campus — whether living on campus, off campus, or commuting — either once or twice a week for the duration of the term. When a positive test occurs, the student, staff, or faculty member is notified by the Testing Coordinator or a member of the Public Health team and given instructions, including how to prepare for the 10-day isolation. In addition, WPI notifies any students or employees who may be a close contact of someone who has tested positive on campus and supports them to follow quarantine guidance. Campus testing statistics can be monitored on the WPI COVID Testing Dashboard.
With a multi-department effort and immense support throughout the WPI community, Triumvirate has helped the university navigate this complex time with safe, productive, and compliant onsite waste management, COVID-19 decontaminations, and EHS compliance. We will continue to help colleges and universities support campus health and safety with ongoing testing and safety program support during reopening and throughout the year.