Resources being provided for additional testing at colleges and universities

CHARLESTON, WV (WOAY) – During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Justice was joined by Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), who announced that Gov. Justice is providing the necessary resources to allow for all of West Virginia’s public two-year and four-year institutions, as well as the state’s not-for-profit private institutions, to conduct surveillance testing on 10 percent of their students and staff each week.

“This is an ongoing measure on our part to try to make sure that our campus communities are safe,” Dr. Tucker said. “Governor, I couldn’t be more thankful for your assistance.”

“When our colleges first went back to school face-to-face, the Governor directed us to test all of our faculty, students, and staff,” Dr. Tucker continued. “We were incredibly grateful that he provided us the resources to do that. We worked with our local health departments and we were able to help ensure the safety of our campus communities.

“But we know the level of strain the local health departments were under trying to make sure that our whole campus community was being tested. It was a huge effort on their part, and they were just wonderful to work with, but we didn’t want to continue to tax them.”

Dr. Tucker added that the HEPC has coordinated with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and the West Virginia National Guard (WVNG) to develop a solution where the institutions will be able to administer saliva-based PCR tests themselves.

“What’s wonderful about the opportunity that we have now is that we won’t have to rely on or provide further strain on the local health departments so that they can continue to do other community testing,” Dr. Tucker said.

“At West Virginia’s higher education institutions, we continue to have less than one percent, week to week, of our students, faculty, and staff testing positive,” Dr. Tucker continued. “We want to keep it that way. We want to make sure that our colleges aren’t contributing to the spread of COVID in our state, and this surveillance testing is a huge way for us to be able to do that.”

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