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WVU turns to students for help with testing

With the start of fall semester around the corner, West Virginia University has reached out to its Morgantown students in the health professions to ask if  they would be interested in helping with COVID-19 testing for returning classmates, faculty and employees.

The university is providing free — and mandatory — virus testing at Morgantown, and at branch campuses in Beckley and Keyser. Testing could begin by the end of the month and is likely to continue for four weeks and end a few days before the new semester begins on Aug. 19.

Dr. Bill Ramsey, WVU Health Sciences’ associate vice president for Coordination and Logistics, said the idea of bringing in students to help with the testing is to give them practical field experience and community service time. Emails offering the COVID-19 testing opportunities were sent out Monday.

“It was a way to help with the COVID-19 response,” Ramsey said Wednesday. “It is clearly voluntary and we did not want to exclude health care professionals.

The test the university plans to administer is a nasal live virus, anterior swab test that takes less than five minutes to complete. 

Ramsey said it is still not known how many students  volunteered or how many people overall will be needed to complete the virus tests.

“It depends on how many sites we have,” he said.

“It’s a large effort.”

The university said students who volunteer to help with the testing will be outfitted in full PPE at N95 mask level, trained on technique and fit tested for mask use. The volunteers will be working next to experienced medical personnel and will be dealing exclusively with sealed sample containers. 

Test results should be electronically available within five days of the test.

WVU said any employee who does not take the test by Aug. 15,  could be subject to disciplinary action, including being placed on administrative leave without pay. A student who does not take the test, meanwhile, could be fined $250.

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