Housing modifies testing requirements for students arriving from abroad

Graphic by Elizabeth Nguyen | Mercury Staff


Due to rising COVID-19 cases, students arriving from an international destination and moving into campus housing will be subject to more stringent entry procedures.

University Housing released its protocol in late July for those arriving from abroad, with separate courses of action for both vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. All students are required to be tested with a viral test three to five days after arrival to the U.S., with unvaccinated students having the added requirement of isolating for at least seven days, regardless of their test results.

Associate VP for Student Affairs and Director of Housing Operations Matthew Grief said that Housing decided to issue a change through an update to the protocol sent out on Aug. 3 to be proactive and keep everyone safe. The revision included the implementation of an additional viral test right when students arrive on campus, alongside the initial requirement of a test administered three to five days after arrival to the U.S.

“The change in the [policy] came based on the fact that we wanted to be able to test the students prior to checking in,” Grief said. “That way if they are positive, we will find that out within 24 to 48 hours, and we can quickly get them into isolation. The other piece of that is that if we don’t and somebody did directly fly here and move in, then it’s possible that we could be waiting five days for that, and they could possibly expose other students. So, we are hoping to kind of attack it from both angles to try to test them when they arrive and then find out when they arrived in the U.S., and then see about the timeline for that three to five days.”

Grief is a part of a COVID working group consisting of several individuals from campus who met daily during the height of the pandemic and are going back to doing so in anticipation of a surge in cases.

“It involves individuals from Health Services, the Dean’s office, OEMCP, Director of Human Resources, etc.,” Grief said. “We discuss cases and changes in CDC and Dallas County recommendations and regulations. And that group, we work together to figure out how we were going to respond and how we were going to test, and then we came up with a procedure for that. It’s all those pieces working together to come to a finalized policy.”

Any travel will be self-reported by students on the day of their move-in. Students will be asked if they have traveled from an international destination within the last seven days, and if the answer is yes, they will be asked for verification of when they arrived to track and follow up with the student for both of their viral tests.

“I’ve come up with the questions for my staff that will guide them through the move-in process and what the staff need to do,” Grief said. “And if they get an answer that they don’t quite understand how to deal with, they’ll be able to come to me, and then I’ll take it back to a group if I need to address that. What we want to do is protect our residents and try to find the best avenue we can to get the students tested and starting off the semester safely.”