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Auburn University will facilitate a new campus sentinel testing program for the spring semester designed to protect the Auburn Family from virus spread amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

The program, to launch Jan. 11 and be offered by the Harrison School of Pharmacy’s Pharmaceutical Care Clinic, will leverage Auburn’s wealth of faculty and clinical expertise and, in response to feedback, will replace the previous GuideSafe™ sentinel testing platform—which was operated in the fall by an externally contracted vendor. As part of this change, improvements to the process will include the following:

  • All on-campus students, faculty and staff will automatically be registered to participate. No account set-up will be required. Correspondence will be easier to identify, as all communications will have A Healthier U branding.

  • Same-day test results will be available. Auburn’s sentinel testing program will use rapid COVID-19 testing technology, allowing for a faster campus response.

  • Auburn will control eligibility files and the random testing selection process. With fewer parties involved in file management, program administrators can respond to and resolve issues promptly.

  • COVID-19 protocols will be triggered sooner. By offering same-day test results and removing third parties from the testing program, Auburn will streamline the notification process and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of quarantine, isolation and contact tracing.

Although the fast-paced launch of GuideSafe™ testing presented challenges in the fall, that process allowed Auburn to establish its own best practices and to learn from the experiences of its academic colleagues across the state.

“The adaptability and cooperation demonstrated by Auburn students, faculty and staff this year has been outstanding, and it has reinforced our confidence that moving forward independently with sentinel testing is the best choice for Auburn,” said Kimberly Braxton Lloyd, associate dean of Clinical Affairs and Outreach and Gilliland Professor in the Harrison School of Pharmacy. “By managing our own sentinel testing program, we believe Auburn can better contribute to our state’s COVID-19 response.”

The sentinel testing process involves a random selection of students, faculty and staff on campus, and there will be no cost to those who are tested. Those selected will receive an e-mail invitation and will be directed to a link to schedule an appointment. The university’s goal will be to test 800 individuals per week. Tests will be administered by a health care professional.

Participation in the program will be optional but highly encouraged and will be incentivized. The Auburn Family is encouraged to consider how their participation can impact the broader campus health, knowing that a larger pool of participants will increase the university’s ability to identify and respond to emerging virus transmission trends. Such testing is an important component of Auburn’s comprehensive health strategy, and the campus’ participation is essential to the program’s success. Those who agree to testing not only will be doing their part to keep themselves and others healthy and help stop the spread of COVID-19, but they also will be given incentives for participation.