PORT Announcements announce-port@fandm.edu

Fri, Oct 2, 2:10 PM

Dear students and colleagues,

I am writing on behalf of F&M’s Pandemic Operations Response Team (PORT) to provide an update on the test results from the additional COVID-19 surveillance testing conducted on Sept. 30, and to provide more information on wastewater testing.

Ware College House COVID-19 Test Results

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, we conducted additional COVID-19 surveillance testing for residents of and employees who work in Ware College House, after the House’s wastewater sample indicated a measurable, albeit low, level of COVID-19.

Today, we received the following test results for 108 students and 23 employees:

  • All residents of Ware tested negative
  • All employees who work in Ware tested negative

In other words, in our most recent round of additional surveillance testing, there were no positive test results. As a reminder, we have transitioned to semiweekly updates of F&M’s COVID-19 dashboard on Tuesdays and Fridays. The new dashboard will be available on our website later this afternoon, and will reflect the latest data.

This is, of course, welcome news on which to end the week, and we are delighted to release all of our friends in Ware from their modified quarantine. Lancaster is expected to have beautiful fall weather this weekend, and we hope everyone gets outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Wastewater Testing at F&M

Naturally, these results may raise questions about the effectiveness of wastewater testing.

As you know, we are conducting wastewater testing at six sites associated with on-campus residences: Bonchek College House (South Ben), Brooks College House (Marshall/Buchanan), New College House, Thomas Hall, Ware College House (North Ben), and Weis College House. Since Schnader Hall is being used for quarantine and isolation as necessary, we are also testing its wastewater as a control to verify the testing method’s ability to detect indicators of the virus’ presence.

Wastewater testing is a new methodology, and we are still learning how its results correlate with results from individual nasal swab tests. There are many possible explanations for the positive wastewater test and subsequent negative nasal swab tests. It is possible, for example, that the wastewater’s positive result could be associated with a member of Ware who doesn’t live in the residence hall since non-resident members of Ware College House still have access to the great room. 

Given the novel nature of wastewater testing, we are continually learning more about its effectiveness, both generally for science and specifically for our campus. Currently, if a wastewater test indicates the presence of the virus, we proceed by determining if additional surveillance testing is necessary and who should participate. To date, we have conducted additional surveillance testing for all individuals living and working in the building for which we have had a positive result. As we learn more about this experimental form of testing, we will continue to evaluate and adjust our testing strategy accordingly.

Thanks to everyone for doing such a great job adhering to testing and quarantine in a collaborative effort to protect the health of our community. Your commitment to these protocols has been a crucial factor in our ability to live and learn safely in person. Let’s keep it up!

Best wishes,

Alan Caniglia

Vice President for Strategic Initiatives