Colleges and universities in Connecticut are preparing to welcome students back. After an extended winter break, some students across the state will begin returning to campuses as early as this weekend.
The return to campus comes at a difficult time in the pandemic, both in Connecticut and across the country. Connecticut's COVID-19 test positivity rate came in at 6.23% Wednesday, down from a high of 10.72% the day before. There were 87 new deaths reported.
Universities across the state say they are prepared for a safe return to campus, with many using testing as a tool this semester.
University of Connecticut
Approximately 4,500 residential students are expected to return to the University of Connecticut's main campus Jan. 16 and 17. The on-campus population is reduced this semester for safety reasons. The average yearly on-campus population is about 12,300, according to a UConn spokesperson.
Students will get tested before and upon move-in.
UConn will continue wastewater testing. They will add more testing spots around academic buildings and residence halls to get a better sense of where the virus may be, according to a spokesperson. The university will also require students to take part in weekly spit tests. The pooled saliva will be tested.
Off-campus students who are taking in-person classes will also be required to be tested before they return to campus.
Sacred Heart University
Students at Sacred Heart University will begin returning to campus Jan. 18. The school's official move-in day is Jan. 25.
"This is a quiet time at the university. We use this time to look at what we did last semester and really begin to focus on what we are going to do this coming semester," said Gary MacNamara, the executive director of public safety and governmental affairs at SHU.
MacNamara said that the university feels the need to do more testing this semester.
Students are required to come to campus with a negative test result. They will then be given another test and will go into a seven day "cautionary quarantine".
Movement on campus will be limited during the seven days, according to MacNamara. After the quarantine period, students will get another PCR test.
“Within that first week that they are on campus, we will have three negative tests from all students that come back," said MacNamara.
In addition to initial testing, students will be tested once a week.
“It is really going to help us stop the spread," said MacNamara.
According to SHU, about 3,500 students will be living on campus for the Spring semester. The school will be testing the entire undergraduate population of 5,000 students.
Quinnipiac University is also requiring pre-arrival testing. Right now, about 3,800 residential students are scheduled to return to campus between Jan. 21 and Jan. 24.
In addition to a pre-arrival test, students will be tested when they return to campus. Students will then undergo a "containment" period until in-person classes begin on Feb. 1.
After initial testing, students will be tested every week through Feb. 28. That decision was based upon a new state requirement, according to Quinnipiac University.
"We all have our part to take in making sure that we keep ourselves safe so we keep our communities safe," said Tom Ellett, QU's Chief Experience Officer.
University of New Haven
The University of New Haven will welcome its residential students back on Jan. 16 and 17. Online classes for all students will begin Jan. 20 and in-person classes will start Feb. 3, according to a fact sheet provided by a university spokesperson.
Students returning to campus have to have a PCR test taken within five days before their return. When they arrive on campus, they will be required to take a rapid COVID-19 test and remain in a "study in place" period until Jan. 24. Students will only be able to end their "study in place" period if they get a negative PCR test, taken on or after their fifth day on campus.
According to a UNH spokesperson, commuter students will begin coming to campus on Feb. 1. Commuters will also be required to provide a negative PCR test prior to their return.
Central Connecticut State University
Students at Central Connecticut State University will return to campus Tuesday, Jan. 19.
The university will host a one-day move-in. According to CCSU's director of residence life, resident students will undergo a one week quarantine until classes begin on Jan. 26.
Students are "strongly encouraged" to get a PCR test up to seven days before move-in. When students arrive on campus they will have to take a rapid COVID-19 test. The rapid test will allow the student to enter his/her residence hall. By the end of the day, all resident-students will also get a PCR test, according to an email from the director of residence life.
Students are required to quarantine for seven days. On the fifth day of quarantine each student will take another PCR test.
According to the director of residence life, all resident-students will be retested for the virus every week through March. After March, 25% of the resident students will be randomly tested.