Weekly COVID-19 testing to be required for unvaccinated OSU community

A photo illustration representing the COVID-19 vaccine and a representation of the COVID-19 virus’ structure. Unvaccinated staff and faculty now have to get weekly tests in hopes to minimize the spread of the virus. 

Cara Nixon, City Editor

Oregon State University announced that beginning Sept. 15 and until further notice, unvaccinated university employees and students will be required to test weekly for COVID-19.

OSU’s vaccination requirement, stating that students on campus must be vaccinated in order to attend, is also effective Sept. 15. For students and employees who are in the process of being fully vaccinated—meaning they have received their final dose of the vaccine and 14 days have passed since—the weekly testing acts as an added precaution to protect against the virus. 

“This added measure will be in place as long as the university determines that local prevalence of the disease warrants it,” OSU Coronavirus Response Coordinator and Vice Provost of Student Affairs Dan Larson said in an email to community members. “Requiring regular COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated OSU community members will help protect this population, detect cases earlier and help reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

Testing options will be provided for students on the Corvallis and Bend campuses, with more details regarding these options to be announced soon. 

Steve Clark, OSU vice president of University Relations & Marking, said the response from students and staff about the vaccination requirement has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

As of Aug. 31, Clark said approximately 95% of students who have complied with the vaccination program have provided proof that they’re vaccinated. 

“Even with 5% [of students] who have not indicated that they’re vaccinated, that still provides a risk that we want to minimize,” Clark explained. “We’re anticipating that there may be some students who have yet to comply by the time school starts, and other students who, for whatever reason, decline to be vaccinated or have requested an exemption, which we will honor.”

The email from Larson stated that compliance with the weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated individuals will be consistently verified. Students and employees who do not comply beginning the week of Sept. 27 may face up to university suspension or university termination, respectively. 

However, Clark said suspension and termination are last resorts for those who don’t comply with the vaccination requirement or weekly testing. The university plans to “lead with education and communication,” according to Clark. 

“It has truly been remarkable that our students and our employees are responding with such a remarkable positive acceptance of this requirement,” Clark said. “The virus is so risky, and the spread of COVID-19 is still a risk; we want to contribute to wellness as fully as possible.”