“At the start of the spring semester, Texas A&M University will require… all students residing in university housing on the College Station campus to test for COVID-19 prior to the end of the first week of classes, on or before January 22,” the message reads.
“There was an initial surge when students arrived in the fall and our public health experts advise that we can expect a similar surge in January.,” the university leaders wrote. “Testing helps the university better manage this surge by identifying and isolating cases (even those who are asymptomatic), which in turn enhances the health and wellbeing of the entire campus and the Bryan-College Station community, and helps us have a greater chance of finishing the spring semester with in-person activities.”
These rules do not apply to students living off campus, even if they attend classes in person, though the university strongly encourages them to get tested as well. Every student, whether taking classes online or in-person, must also finish a COVID-19 training and certification program administered by Texas A&M.
The university will offer free COVID-19 testing on campus.
The other campuses in the A&M system may set their own rules. Prairie View A&M doesn’t allow students on campus with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, and West Texas A&M simply encourages students with positive diagnoses to self-report and quarantine.
Few universities required testing at the beginning of the fall semester.
Baylor University made news for requiring students to mail in a negative COVID-19 test before going back to campus. The University of St. Thomas instituted a similar requirement but tested students for free on campus. The University of Houston made students take a daily health assessment to evaluate any symptoms or exposure to the infected. Rice University’s measures land on the more stringent end of the spectrum: in the fall semester, campus leadership told students and parents that undergraduate students had to get tested every week whether they lived on campus or not.
A&M is the first of the public flagship universities in Texas — the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas, Texas State, and Texas Tech — to require testing for all students.
Along with many other universities, A&M created a way for students to report each other for breaking health rules this year.
Of the 23,565 people that have died from COVID-19 in Texas, 131 died between the ages of 20 and 29. Between the ages of 10 and 19, there have been 22 fatalities.
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