Vanderbilt announces twice-a-week mandatory testing, protocols for spring semester

The university will conduct arrival testing Jan. 20 to 24 and hold a ‘quiet’ period from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3.


Truman McDaniel

Brass statue wearing mask, photographed Sept. 3, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Truman McDaniel)

Thomas Hum and Immanual John Milton

Dean of Students Mark Bandas sent an email Friday morning announcing updates to the previously announced testing protocol for the Spring 2021 semester. Major changes include arrival testing, shelter in place updates and twice-weekly mandatory testing.

This correspondence follows a Dec. 15 email from administrators which announced the elimination of a pre-arrival testing program and revisions to quarantine and isolation procedures. 

Shelter in Place

The protocol will require undergraduates to “shelter in place” for ten days prior to arrival on campus. This update is a revision to the Dec. 15 announcement that sheltering in place would take place only after students arrive on campus. 

Students are still required to shelter in place after arriving on campus until they receive a negative result from their arrival test. Students can expect to receive their result within 36 hours. Until students receive their negative test result, they must not attend in-person classes or participate in in-person gatherings. Additionally, students must remain in their residences, leaving only to pick up food or for medical appointments.

Students residing off campus must also follow these shelter in place guidelines. These students should not come to campus during this time except for medical appointments.

‘Quiet’ Period

All undergraduate students returning to campus for in-person learning, including students living in residence halls or Greek houses or in off-campus locations, will be required to participate in a ‘quiet’ period from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3, where non-essential activities, excluding classes, will be virtual. Dubbed the “Commodores Care” period, it is intended to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19. Following this period, in-person activities may resume, per the email.

Students will not be allowed to “engage in in-person social interactions” during this period, regardless of test results.

Arrival and Twice-weekly testing

The university is also mandating that undergraduates participate in arrival testing between Jan. 20-24 and twice-weekly testing beginning Jan. 31 for the spring semester. In addition to arrival testing, all undergraduates will be required to be tested between Jan. 26-28.

This also is a change from the weekly testing, stated in the Dec. 15 announcement.

Testing will be conducted in the Testing Center Sunday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. For the twice-weekly tests, students will test once in the first three days of the week and then again in the next three days.

“If you choose a Sunday time slot for your first weekly test, your second weekly test will be on Wednesday,” the email stated. “If you choose a Monday time slot for your first weekly test, your second weekly test will be on a Thursday. If you choose a Tuesday time slot for your first weekly test, your second weekly test will be on a Friday.” 

The rationale for the updates to testing is that they will maximize the likelihood of detecting positive cases, per the email.

“As we all work together to keep each other as safe and healthy as possible this semester, let’s keep the finish line in mind while Anchoring Down and Stepping Up,” Bandas’ email read.