Bi-weekly COVID testing starts soon

Griffin Sendek/Multimedia Editor. A view from the catwalk at the Genesius Theater shows the newly installed testing stations. For the remainder of the semester, all individuals who come to campus in any capacity will need to be tested here. While the infrastructure for testing has been in place since the start of the semester, university administration struggled to assure the proper technology to carry out their extensive testing plans.

Kellen Stepler | Editor-in-Chief

Asymptomatic, bi-weekly surveillance testing on-campus will begin this week – a couple weeks later than scheduled. 


On Jan. 13, Duquesne issued an update about the Spring 2021 semester, noting that the university “will have required surveillance testing.” The delay in testing, Duquesne spokesperson Gabe Welsch said, was due to “issues with support technology.” 


“With the issue now resolved, testing will begin this week,” Welsch said. 


The process will go something like this: Students will utilize a platform called SONA to schedule test appointments, track their results and relay other communication relevant to testing. 


Students will receive an email with a link to register when it is their turn for testing, according to a campus-wide email sent Wednesday afternoon. “Participation in Duquesne Testing is mandatory for all students who are on campus this semester in any capacity,” the email read. 


“Non-compliance will result in the student being prohibited from campus (including from residing in on-campus university housing) and having to complete all coursework remotely.” Testing for each student will be required every two weeks, and will take place in the Genesius Theater. Duquesne will begin testing resident students first, and then will test commuter students and employees. 


Appointments for testing are required. Even if a student has already received a vaccine, they still are required to participate in the testing, according to the email. 


However, students who have tested positive for COVID-19 are not eligible to participate until they have passed the required 90-day window from the date of diagnosis. The tests will take approximately 15 minutes, but students should be reachable by phone in the event that they test positive. 


“You will be contacted via phone within one hour in the event of a positive result and contacted by email in the event of a negative result,” the email read. While this testing was delayed, Welsch pointed out that Duquesne has continued its symptomatic testing program since the beginning of the semester. 


“When coupled with pre-arrival testing, Duquesne has coordinated the administration of 7,300 tests (as of Feb. 16) since the beginning of the calendar year,” Welsch said. 


Additionally, Duquesne displayed a new COVID-19 dashboard on their COVID-19 website this week. “To see the testing figures as well as a range of other information, people can visit the university’s significantly upgraded COVID-19 dashboard,” Welsch said. 


The new dashboard offers an overview of average case data and weekly test data on campus. The information is updated Monday through Friday by a dashboard team comprised of seven staff members at Duquesne. COVID-19 data across Allegheny County is also shown on Duquesne’s website. The Allegheny County Health Department maintains the county dashboard, which is updated every day.