By Ellyn Fritz || News Editor
On October 8th, F&M’s Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT) shared the revised COVID-19 testing plan for Module 2 with Franklin & Marshall’s student body. This information was released in accordance with changes in testing research resources, community feedback, and in partnership with senior staff and F&M’s consultants from Keeling & Associates.
The new testing plan will continue to incorporate wastewater testing; however, a positive finding will no longer necessarily lead to additional testing and quarantine. Furthermore, the previous surveillance testing strategy (20% of the student body randomly chosen every two weeks for individual testing) will be replaced by a modified universal testing protocol in which each student is tested twice during the six-week in-residence portion of Module 2. Similarly to Module 1, additional surveillance testing will be conducted under certain circumstances, such as a significant viral load in a wastewater result unassociated with previous positive tests, an increase in the number of symptomatic students, or an alternative unforeseen scenario.
Students will be tested on Mondays and Tuesdays depending on their grouping in the following schedule:
Group A will test during week 1 (Oct. 12 and 13) and week 4 (Nov. 2 and 3).
Group B will test during week 2 (Oct. 19 and 20) and week 5 (Nov. 9 and 10).
Group C will test during week 3 (Oct. 26 and 27) and week 6 (Nov. 16 and 17).
In addition to a revised testing plan for Module 1, the Office of the President sent out an email on October 13th to recognize Franklin & Marshall’s community efforts amidst the pandemic in the initial weeks of the Fall semester and to outline F&M’s Spring 2021 plan. This message came after PORT’s weekly report on October 13th, which reported zero current active cases of COVID-19 on Franklin & Marshall’s campus: positive news and a victory for the college.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, the college will be open for Spring 2021. F&M will follow their original plan of de-densifying campus, therefore the first-year cohort will study remotely this spring and the sophomore cohort will be invited to return to campus. Additionally, first-year students will not be permitted to take leases in approved off-campus housing; however, a very limited number of first-years for whom remote learning creates a significant hardship will be allowed to apply for permission to live in on-campus housing. All F&M students who live within 75 miles of campus with an immediate adult family member will have the option to commute for in-person classes.
Junior Ellyn Fritz is the News Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.