By Dillon Thomas

FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Students at Colorado State University can expect more testing than ever before during the spring 2021 semester. Most students and staff will be required to take weekly COVID-19 tests in order to continue their studies or work on the Fort Collins campus.

(credit: CBS)

“We’ve worked very hard over the last couple of months looking at how we can keep the campus as safe and healthy as possible,” said Mary Pedersen, Provost and Executive Vice President of Colorado State University.

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Pedersen told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas the university worked tirelessly to create a plan that would make in-person learning at the campus safer and more feasible.

“Because of the environment where the pandemic is, we feel it is critical to have a weekly testing cadence for people on campus,” Pedersen said.

(credit: CBS)

Colorado State University has an on-campus lab which has already been running saliva and fecal samples from the campus for months. The in-house lab has already been credited with helping stop the spread of COVID-19 on the campus as it allows the university to detect spread throughout the campus before most know they are contagious.

In the fall of 2020, CSU’s lab was processing more than 1,600 samples every day.

“(We are) ramping that up to a capacity of 3,000 a day. That allows us to do 15,000 tests a week,” Pedersen said.

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Those required to take a weekly test to start the semester include students living on campus, those living in Greek life housing, most freshmen and sophomores attending on-campus classes and staff that spends a majority of their shifts on campus.

Eventually the university plans to increase testing to more than 5,000 tests per day. Doing so would allow most staff and students to be tested on a weekly basis.

CSU’S Marc Barker said preliminary testing will be done out of the campus rec center. The university also hopes to create remote pods throughout the campus for testing as the semester continues.

(credit: CBS)

“That lab is able to turn around those samples within a 24-hour time period,” Barker said.

By testing sewage and saliva samples from the campus at a consistent rate CSU can detect potential spread of COVID-19 before most students and staff even realize they have the virus. From there those who test positive will be isolated for a short time cutting the spread off.

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“I can’t reiterate enough the importance of our students and how well they have done to this point,” Barker said. “There’s not anything that we are not willing to explore to do to make sure to make that happen for them.”

Dillon Thomas