Random COVID-19 testing at the University of North Texas

The University of North Texas is conducting random coronavirus testing amid rising and declining cases.

Coronavirus testing sites can be found on UNT Student Health social media accounts and are being made available at no cost to asymptomatic UNT students every week.

The assistant vice president for wellness, Laura Klein, said the Student Health and Wellness Center is prepared to administer up to three-hundred tests a week for the Fall semester.

"We are just trying to, if there's a pocket [for example] that pops up in the music building, we want to be able to catch it, isolate, and control it. That's the whole point of the random testing," said Klein.

While random testing is free for asymptomatic students, students with symptoms are turned away and redirected to the Student Health and Wellness Center, which will bill the student's insurance.

Klein said that students who show no signs of symptoms are welcome to take more than one free test.

"We try to tell them to take it at least two weeks apart, but we're not probably going to turn them away unless they came the day before," said Klein.

With the university holding both on campus and virtual learning, UNT freshman Grace Mutterer said she was a bit concerned about moving in on campus during the pandemic.

"People not wearing masks around campus, I get really offended," said Mutterer. "I don't ever say anything, but personally I feel like it's very disrespectful, because the reason you have a mask is to protect others and if you're not protecting others, then why should we protect you."

Mutterer is one of many students who have expressed concerns about following safety guidelines on campus, while others share their concerns on social media platforms like Twitter.

One frequent concern is the number of students who gather at UNT football games.

Klein said she thinks it is important for students to have engagement opportunities and she fully supports the choice to allow the students to go to something like football games.

"We just have to manage the behavior at football games, which every institution across the country is trying to do," Said Klein.

Abraham Benavides associate professor in the Healthy Community Collaborative Program, , said he is impressed by the amount of compliance students on campus have had by wearing face masks and keeping six feet apart.

"One of the fears that we had as faculty is, what do we say when a student says, 'I am not going to wear my mask?" said Benavides.

Benavides said he has not had to deal with any students refusing to wear a mask, which is one reason he is certain UNT is not going to have a COVID-19 outbreak like other colleges have had nationwide.

While cases have not shown any trends, Klein said the university has had a few small pockets of positive cases which she said are not significant.

If a student is found to have tested positive, they are told to isolate for 10 days and a doctor checks in periodically to follow their symptoms.

However, the isolation process is different for students living on campus.

"Physicians will contact the contact tracing team, they do their work and we work with housing," said Klein. "The student then is moved to the isolation dorm. At that point, we arrange for food to be delivered to the student through dining, so all their meals are brought to them."

Klein said counselors also check up on the students periodically to make sure they are OK.

"We just want to make sure that their mental and emotional health is strong and positive through this isolation period," said Klein.

Looking ahead, Klein said if the university keeps following safety guidelines and continues to do what they are doing, she thinks the university will end the school year very strong.

I think it's a real possibility as long as students are being diligent about what they are doing even when they leave campus and go home," Klein said. "That they are being diligent and taking this very seriously and so far, that's what we've seen."

Testing site information:

*UNT notes that all data is provisional and subject to change. Probable cases are not included in the total case numbers.