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Campus & Community Advisory Committee met to discuss spring COVID-19 testing policies

The committee discussed its recommendations for UNC's testing program and the possibility of an application monitoring COVID-19 compliance.

Screen Shot 2020-10-13 at 3.04.17 PM.jpeg
Screenshot from the virtually-held Campus Community Advisory Committee meeting on Monday, Oct. 13, 2020.

The Campus & Community Advisory Committee met Tuesday to discuss entry-testing requirements for COVID-19 before and during the spring semester, as well as a web app for COVID-19 regulation. 

What's new?

Committee members discussed how to improve UNC's COVID-19 testing, with suggestions including compliance standards, screening and robust testing. 

  • Amir Barzin, an assistant professor in the School of Medicine, discussed how students should be tested for COVID-19 before arriving on or off-campus.
    • Barzin said that the University of Illinois uses an app where students can verify compliance with university COVID-19 standards. 
  • Rick Wernoski, the senior vice provost for business operations, said a community-based standard, where professors can check students’ health compliance before entering the classroom, would be a potential option.
  • In response to what robust testing and surveillance means, Barzin said that it refers to anywhere from one to three COVID-19 tests per individual a week. He said that if the University sees COVID-19 spikes in one dorm, it should increase testing for that dorm and accommodate appropriately.
  • Barzin said he also wants testing data to be streamlined so that if a positive test is reported in the system, the data can flow to the county and state instead of having to separately send multiple times.
  • Ethan Phillips, an undergraduate student majoring in public policy, brought up the concern of testing locations and student equity of access for both on campus and off-campus students.
  • Committee members also discussed that transportation, time and monetary hardships will be a priority for on- and off-campus future testing locations.

Many committee members agreed that a testing lifecycle app that would tell students when to get tested and provide direct test results would be beneficial. The potential app would be closed loop, meaning that the data would not be accessible to anyone except the individual.

  • The committee could not agree on contact tracing features within the potential app because of technology and privacy concerns.
  • J. Michael Barker, vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, said that a concern with a contact tracing app would not be worth the amount of logistics and resources needed for it to function properly because of inefficient technology, building infrastructure and mandatory download requirements for students.
  • But Lamar Richards, an undergraduate student majoring in neuroscience, said that if an app is not required, then students will not engage.
  • “There’s a real temptation to want to know what is the silver bullet, is the testing strategy the silver bullet, is the app the silver bullet, is the community standards the silver bullet?” Mimi Chapman, chairperson of the faculty, said. “And I think we kind of need a whole arsenal, so that’s what we’re looking at, is putting those pieces together.”

How did the committee start?

Chancellor Guskiewicz created the committee to reflect on the past seven months and fall 2020 roadmap to provide input related to considerations from the leadership team and larger constituencies in neighboring communities and on campus. 

Who is on the committee?

  • One faculty content expert liaison
  • Three chairpersons
  • Nine faculty members 
  • Five students
  • Eight staff members 
  • Four community members

What’s next?

  • UNC will be in extensive communications with University of Illinois and other schools for further insight on reopening plans. 
  • Next week’s meeting, set for Oct. 20, will discuss housing density, quarantining, isolation and the enforcement of community standards and what they could look like.
  • Richards requested that student mental health be discussed at the next meeting.

Here's what the committee discussed last week

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