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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

News in Brief: Spring Covid-19 testing to include both PCR and antigen tests

The college will distribute antigen rapid tests for symptomatic students instead of requiring weekly PCR testing this spring.
The college will distribute antigen rapid tests for symptomatic students instead of requiring weekly PCR testing this spring.

This spring, the college will shift its Covid-19 testing strategy to distribute rapid antigen tests to symptomatic students and staff instead of requiring weekly PCR testing.

The college has secured 30,000 antigen tests, Vice President of Student Affairs Smita Ruzicka and Chief Health Officer and College Physician Mark Peluso told The Campus.

In an email to students, the college said PCR testing will continue for those who wish to get tested, along with “close contacts, to confirm the results of negative antigen tests in symptomatic students, for testing before and after travel, and for athletics competitions as required.” 

The plan is “to distribute antigen tests to students and employees in early March and at that time we will provide guidance on when it is best to use PCR vs. antigen tests,” Ruzicka and Peluso wrote in an email to The Campus.

This shift from PCR to rapid antigen testing follows official public health guidance in Vermont and in the U.S.

“The number of cases of Covid-19 will become a less meaningful metric in our management of the virus with the availability of home antigen tests and the likelihood that not everyone who takes a test will report the result,” Ruzicka and Peluso said. “[The] campus’s high rate of vaccination and effective treatments for high-risk individuals reduce the risk of adverse consequences in a test early and treat early strategy.”

However, Ruzicka and Peluso say that they worry testing will provide “a false sense of security.” 

“We cannot solely rely on testing (whether antigen or PCR) to ensure our community is safe,” they said. “We need everyone in the community to continue doing their part in keeping themselves and each other safe and healthy.”

The college plans to provide health and safety guidelines as the pandemic continues and hopes to return to “a more normal college experience once it is reasonable to do so,” the two administrators said.

Sabrina Salam

Sabrina Salam '24 (she/her) is a Copy Editor.

She previously served as a Staff Writer. Sabrina spent this past spring semester studying abroad in Spain. This summer she interned as a Legal Intern at Verizon's headquarter in New Jersey.

Sabrina is studying International & Global Studies with a focus in Global Security. She is also a Peer Career Advisor at the Center for Careers and Internships and a DJ for WRMC Middlebury College Radio.