Contact: Cecilia Cooper | Director, Public Relations | 401-232-6932
SMITHFIELD, RI - As Bryant’s fall reopening quickly approaches, dedicated University leaders, faculty, and staff are working nonstop to develop systems and protocols—including an aggressive testing plan—to ensure the health and safety of students and the entire community when campus reopens in August.
The University’s Reopening Plan, based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), and infectious disease experts, was approved by the state with commendations for its clarity and comprehensiveness. A significant part of Bryant’s reopening strategy is an aggressive testing plan.
“The health and safety of our community is our highest priority."
“The health and safety of our community is our highest priority,” says President Ross Gittell. “We are committed to testing on campus, which is critical for getting the rapid results that will help to keep our community safe and allow us to continue operations.”
Bryant has invested nearly $3 million in weekly testing on site for the entire campus community.
As recommended in the CDC’s “Considerations for Colleges and Universities,” Bryant’s testing protocols are part of the University’s layered approach to preventing transmission of COVID-19 on campus. This comprehensive strategy includes preparedness, prevention, education, screening, laboratory testing, case identification and contact tracing, staffing, and mitigation to keep the campus safe.
“Having aggressive testing, case investigation, and contact tracing, will allow us to work with RIDOH in identifying trends that might suggest an outbreak and be able to quickly take steps to isolate cases and protect students and the campus community,” says Jay Amrien, MPAS, PA-C, Director of Bryant’s Physician Assistant Program, and Co-Chair of the Health and Safety Committee to Reopen. In addition to his years of leadership, clinical, and teaching experience, Amrien’s work as a Physician Assistant includes a clinical practice at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Chelsea where he routinely sees COVID-19 patients. He also leads a weekly student clinic at the Rhode Island Free Clinic.
Amrien is leading the development of Bryant’s testing program working with Paul A. Ullucci, Jr., PT, DPT, Ph.D., Development Director for Bryant’s Department of Physical Therapy, who is coordinating the implementation of the program on campus. Amrien will also monitor outcomes and work closely with RIDOH to recommend updates and adjustments to the plan based on testing data.
To follow is an overview of Bryant’s testing plans that includes:
- Returning to campus
- Ongoing monitoring and testing for all students, faculty, and staff
- Testing protocols for symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals
- Testing for students before leaving for break
Returning to campus
All faculty, staff, and students should acquire a test for COVID-19 before returning to campus if possible. The intent of this testing is to prevent those currently infected from entering the campus. Information about testing is available at state health department websites.
Beginning in August, faculty, staff, and students returning to campus will receive a RT-PCR test for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). A PCR – or polymerase chain reaction test – detects the presence of viral RNA (ribonucleic acid). According to the CDC, this type of test is the recommended method for diagnosing infection.
The initial test and ongoing weekly “surveillance” testing will take place in the Multipurpose Athletic Center (MAC) with designated areas for students and faculty/staff. The test is a self-administered nasal swab conducted in the presence of a health services professional. Samples will be processed at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard lab, which has begun processing COVID-19 test samples from patients across New England and will soon be testing up to 50,000 tests a day. Bryant was an early participant in this program and has been testing Physician Assistant students in a pilot, allowing them to return to on-campus classes in June.
Information about testing schedules is available here.
Faculty, staff, and students returning to campus must comply with campus entry protocols and self-certify, on a daily basis, that they have no COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors using Bryant's Health Checker, also available via the mobile app. Those with a fever or other symptoms/risk factors should stay home or in their dorm and not come to campus.
Results will be available to Bryant Health Services Personnel in less than 24 hours via a propriety reporting system. Those who test positive will be sent home when possible. Those who cannot safely get home will stay in isolation in a designated facility on campus. Once a positive case is identified, trained campus personnel, in coordination with RIDOH, will conduct a thorough investigation and contact tracing to determine if others are at risk and should be tested and quarantined.
Regular testing of asymptomatic individuals
Ongoing monitoring and testing of faculty, staff, and students will be conducted weekly using the same process as initial testing. This is intended to identify asymptomatic individuals early enough to prevent on campus transmission at a significant level. Testing intervals can be shortened as necessary to accommodate for increase in case positive rates.
Testing for those with symptoms
If an individual develops symptoms while on campus, they will be directed to the newly constructed COVID Clinic located in the Community Center at the Town Houses where health services professionals
will perform a rapid RT-PCR. Bryant has purchased the GeneXpert Xpress System developed by Cepheid, one of the world’s leading providers of molecular diagnostics, to conduct this a highly sensitive, rapid test right on campus. With this test, results will be available in less than 45 minutes.
Before the semester break
Every student will receive testing 24 hours before returning home for the Thanksgiving Break, minimizing the chance for any Bryant University student to bring the virus home to family members or external communities.
Continuous monitoring and updates
Further information regarding testing in spring testing and other safety measures will be determined based on the availability of new scientific evidence, treatments, or an available vaccine.
Bryant University’s Reopening Health and Safety team will monitor testing outcomes and data will work closely with RIDOH to make any necessary adjustments. Details and updates will be available at www.Bryant.edu/reopening