Texas A&M Random Testing Program finds positivity rate declining among students

Results showed a drop in the overall positivity rate from 3.2% to 1.6%.
Texas A&M shares new details on what fall semester will look like
Texas A&M shares new details on what fall semester will look like
Published: Sep. 22, 2020 at 4:56 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - The second round of the Random Testing Program at Texas A&M University showed a drop in the overall positivity rate from 3.2 percent to 1.6 percent, according to Texas A&M University officials.

Round Two was conducted the week of Sept. 7. 9,782 students were invited to participate in the program through email. Of the students invited, 71 percent responded to the initiation and visited the pre-screening questionnaire. 5,498 respondents were considered eligible through the pre-screening process, and 3,436 students completed the testing program process.

The results from the eligible students who completed the the COVID-19 test showed:

  • 53 students, with available results, tested positive for COVID-19 (1.6 percent positivity rate)
  • .9 percent of students living in on-campus housing tested positive
  • 2 percent of students living off-campus tested positive
  • 2.2 percent of students attending all courses remotely tested positive
  • 1.4 percent of students attending courses using a combination of remote and in-person interactions tested positive

Texas A&M officials said that SARS-CoV-2 was detected in a smaller fraction of the student population in Round Two compared to Round One.

A&M gives students the option for in-person classes, remote learning or a combination. According to officials, 81 percent of students attend classes by a combination of remote and in-person learning, and 19 percent of students attend remote lectures only. The results from Round Two show that the positivity rate is not higher among students attending in-person classes.

All students who test positive for COVID-19 are notified and moved into isolation. Close contacts are also notified through contact tracing.

A&M officials said the program focuses on students who did not get clinical testing on their own, students who may be asymptomatic or experiencing mild symptoms. This process allows for the possible identification of COVID “hot spots”. The research asked students about specific COVID-related symptoms and found that the most frequent symptoms were headache, sore or scratchy throat, runny nose, and nasal or sinus congestion.

The Random Testing Program uses an adaptive approach, meaning that results from each round will inform other testing strategies. Round Three is already underway and 9,782 students have been contacted.

“We are very proud of where we are at six weeks into the semester,” said Michael K. Young, President of Texas A&M University. “These results demonstrate the importance of the hard work and selfless service by our researchers, faculty, staff and especially our students. We will remain vigilant in our strategies to combat COVID-19 and give our students the best college experience possible.”

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