When UCF resumed reduced campus operations last fall, the university made numerous upgrades to cleaning and safety procedures to help promote a healthier environment for Knights. These changes included reducing seating capacity in classes, adding hand sanitizing stations across campuses and using disinfectant foggers to conduct efficient cleaning, among many others.
As UCF continues to enhance its safety measures during the pandemic, here are a few new methods being implemented this spring to help protect Knights.
Specialized Reminders Through UCF Mobile
To remind the campus community to help keep every Knight healthy, UCF will begin sending messaging to UCF Mobile app users in heavily populated areas. Specialized hardware will be utilized to trigger the messaging, which will include reminders, such as “Armor Up” or “Complete the COVID Self-Checker.”
Housing Move-in Testing
UCF Housing residents, both those returning and new, must complete COVID-19 testing and receive a negative result before occupying their assigned building. UCF is partnering with COVID Testing LLC. to conduct free, rapid nasal testing for residents on the main, UCF Downtown and Rosen campuses.
New residents and those who left campus during the winter break must sign up through the Housing Portal on myUCF for testing and move-in appointments Jan. 7-10. Residents who cannot be tested until after Jan. 10 must contact Student Health Services to set up testing at their own expense with Aventus BioLabs. Residents who remained in their dorms during the winter break should have completed free COVID-19 testing on Jan. 6, with some exceptions permitted for testing at a later date but before Jan. 10.
At the start of each testing and move-in appointment, students on the main campus should go to the housing station in Garage D before proceeding to testing in front of the Addition Financial Arena. Residents at the UCF Downtown and Rosen campuses should check their Housing websites and emails for communication on where to go for testing.
On each campus, residents who test negative will return to their housing station and present their negative test result and a completed COVID Self-Checker in order to receive a wristband that will allow them to check into their assigned housing community. Residents’ UCF IDs will be encoded at their housing community, which will allow them to access their dorm and complete move in.
Students who test positive during move-in testing will undergo additional testing and work with Student Health Services to determine a proper course of action. These students may be given the option of quarantining at home or staying in one of the campus isolation spaces.
As COVID information is rapidly evolving, residents are encouraged to check the Department of Housing and Residence Life website for the most updated information. More information related to move-in and COVID-19 precautions implemented by UCF Housing can also be found on UCF Today.
UCF is implementing wastewater testing on main campus for COVID-19 during spring semester. This testing will be used in dorms to monitor the presence of the coronavirus — which can be detected in human waste up to two weeks after someone has had COVID-19. While the tests won’t be able to determine traces of the virus from specific rooms or floors, they will be able to indicate if the presence of COVID-19 stays the same, increases or decreases in buildings from week to week.
Where and When?
Testing is currently scheduled to cover five UCF residence halls. Samples will be collected Monday through Friday throughout the semester, ideally once a week for the five dorms that will be monitored. Testing frequency may change throughout the semester as necessary.
Chemistry Assistant Professor Melanie Beazley is leading the wastewater collection and testing process. Beazley’s research interest focuses on wastewater and the testing method being used for this project is similar to ones she’s conducted in the past.
“This is an important step for the university to take to continue to strengthen COVID-19 mitigation efforts and to keep making the health and safety of student, faculty and staff a priority,” Beazley says.
While specific testing sites vary in each residence hall, the process will require a pump to be installed at a sewer main for each housing community. These pumps will not interrupt campus activity and will collect multiple samples over a 24-hour period for accuracy.
After samples have been collected, about 1 liter of the water will be filtered and tested using genetic biomarkers identified by the CDC to indicate if and how much of the coronavirus is present. Testing the wastewater samples will typically take up to 24 hours, and up to 48 hours in certain cases.
“When you’re working with water waste you’re working with many pathogens, so from a lab standpoint we have to have all safety practices in place, from wearing face shields, gloves, masks and gowns to how we bleach and clean our surfaces,” Beazley says.
For the latest information about returning to campus, visit UCF’s coronavirus and Returning to UCF websites. Students, faculty, staff and visitors will be required to complete the COVID Self-Checker — available via the UCF mobile app or online — each day before arriving to campus.