Covid-19 Testing and Mitigation Strategy

The U Experience is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for all its students and staff. To this effect, The U Experience has developed the following COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Strategy in response to the pandemic. Everyone in the bubble is individually responsible for ensuring that this strategy is upheld.

COVID-19 is a highly transmissible disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. While COVID-19 can have severe consequences, including death, the risk the virus poses varies greatly depending on the age and health of the person. By providing a low-risk demographic of students with an isolated environment, a proactive testing regime, and a mitigation strategy, The U Experience will limit the probability that any student contracts COVID-19 and minimize the spread as much as possible if any such positive case occurs.

As more information is made available and testing technology improves, our COVID-19 Testing and Mitigation Strategy will continue to develop in accordance with the latest scientific knowledge and CDC recommendations.

Testing Strategy

A primary challenge with containing the spread of the disease is that it can be transmitted by asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people who are unaware that they have the virus. The incubation period for COVID-19 ranges from 2-14 days (median 4-5) from exposure to the onset of symptoms. It’s during this time when someone has the SARS-CoV-2 virus but is not showing symptoms that they pose a high risk for community spread. However, the rapid antigen point-of-care test we use can identify the SARS-CoV-2 virus on the first day someone is infected and provide results within 15 minutes.

Frequent testing as part of an overall mitigation strategy can provide a way to limit the impact of  COVID-19 within a given population. 

Pre-Arrival Protocol:

  • Prior to the start of the semester, The U Experience will send each admitted student an at-home COVID-19 antibody rapid test. All students will be required to take this test and produce a negative result prior to the start of the program.
  • The antibody test can detect whether a student is or has been infected. This test provides our medical experts with a better understanding of existing immunity and overall student risk-profiles.
  • Students are required to self isolate for the 5 days prior to The U Experience start date. After 3 days of self-quarantine, students must take their antibody test then self-isolate for the 2 remaining days before arriving on campus.
  • The first 3 days of self-isolation are to ensure that the antibody test, which can detect COVID-19 3 days from exposure, is accurate. Students are required to continue self-isolation until the start of the program to ensure they do not contract the virus after a negative test. As an added layer of protection, the total 5-day self-isolation aligns with the median incubation period, meaning that 50% of infected individuals will have shown symptoms by this time.
  • Students who produce a positive at-home antibody test result or develop symptoms prior to their arrival on campus will be asked to delay their start date by at least 1-week or until they produce a negative test result.
  • All students will be advised to receive a flu vaccine once it is available
  • While traveling, students must take all recommended precautions from the CDC, including wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) while in public locations such as airports and airplanes. 

Onboarding Process:

  • All students will receive an antigen point-of-care test immediately upon arrival onsite and will self-isolate until a negative test is returned. 

On-Campus Protocol:

  • Testing of a pseudo-random sample of the 150 students every 3 days will be performed onsite using a rapid antigen point of care test which will provide results within 15 minutes and can identify SARS-CoV-2 virus on the first day someone is infected.
  • Any student exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19 will be tested immediately and isolated until a negative test result is returned.
  • If a student tests positive for COVID-19, students who are identified by our contact-tracing system as having been in close contact with the infected student will be isolated and tested.

Testing Strategy

In conjunction with the testing strategy, we will be implementing steps to mitigate student exposure to COVID-19 and limit the potential for the spread of the virus should any student become infected. The mitigation strategy is in accordance with guidelines provided by the CDC for Institutes of Higher Education.

Signs will be posted with recommended hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and mask-wearing as per CDC guidelines:

  • Recommend and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after contact with commonly used surfaces and before and after consumption of any food or beverages.
  • Encourage students, faculty, and staff to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Recommend the use of face coverings among students, faculty, and staff.

Adequate Supplies

  • Support healthy hygiene behaviors by providing adequate supplies, including soap, hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol, paper towels, tissues, disinfectant wipes, masks (as feasible), and no-touch/foot pedal trash cans.
  • Students will be provided cloth masks when they arrive.

Facilities and Layout

  • Each student will be assigned to their own bedroom with a private bathroom.
  • Shared communal spaces such as dining halls, exercise rooms, and lounges will have capacity limitations and supplies will be provided to clean between use.
  • Prevention supplies such as soap, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, and disposable masks will be provided in common areas. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces (e.g., door handles, sink handles, drinking fountains, grab bars, hand railings, bathroom stalls, dining hall tables) within the facility at least daily or between use as much as possible. 
  • A schedule will be implemented for cleaning all onsite areas students occupy, including private rooms and common areas.
  • Food services will be provided with grab-and-go options and disposable food service items will be used when possible.
  • A private service will be used to transport students to offsite activities, reducing their exposure to the general population outside of the bubble. Drivers will practice all safety precautions and protocols as indicated for other staff (e.g., hand hygiene, masks). 
  • All interaction between hotel staff and students will be limited and hotel staff will be required to wear personal protective equipment if in contact with students.

Communication

  • Consistent with applicable law and privacy policies, students will report if they have symptoms of COVID-19, a positive test for COVID-19, or were exposed to someone with COVID-19 within the last 14 days in accordance with health information sharing regulations for COVID-19
  • If any student reports a positive test result, all other students will be notified that a contact tracing effort is being conducted and their participation is required.
  • Students will be notified of any areas or activities that will be restricted or closed while contact tracing and testing is being conducted.

Identification Steps

  • Students are required to take and record their temperatures daily and before any group activity when possible.
  • Students are required to report any symptoms related to COVID-19 immediately.
  • Proactive testing of students will be conducted based on a pseudo-random sample of students to help identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases. 

Visitor Policies

  • Outside guests and visitors will not be allowed unless approved by The U Experience. 
  • Upon arrival to campus, all visitors are required to follow the standard onboarding process, including taking a COVID-19 test immediately and quarantining until they’ve produced a negative test result.
  • Students are not to leave the campus unless approved by The U Experience staff or for official excursions.

Protocol if a Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

If a student tests positive for COVID-19, either from a random test or from a test after showing symptoms the following steps will be taken:

  • The student who tests positive for COVID-19 will be isolated in their room.
  • All group activities will be temporarily suspended.
  • Meals will be delivered to the infected student’s room and left outside their door.
  • Areas used by the infected person will be closed off until cleaning and disinfecting has been completed.
  • A contact tracing program will be initiated among all students that have come in close contact* with the positive student in the last 5 days. 
  • Students who were determined to have come in close contact with the positive student will be tested.
  • In the event of a suspected outbreak, all students will be tested. 
  • Students who test positive cannot return to normal activities until they have received 2 negative test results separated by at least 24-hours.
  • Safe student transport to a healthcare facility will be arranged if requested or deemed necessary.
*According to the CDC, close contact means:
  • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for at least 15 minutes
  • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • You had direct physical contact with the person (touched, hugged, or kissed them)
  • You shared eating or drinking utensils
  • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

For more information about our testing partner, Veritas Testing, please check out covidtest.la