ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – After three sorority houses were placed on quarantine and a series COVID-19 cases connected to University of Central Florida Greek life, the university will begin random virus testing next week.
There have been 456 student COVID-19 cases confirmed from tests ordered and reported to Student Health Services, an additional 183 students and staff have self-reported positive results to the university, as of Sept. 12.
Last week, UCF suspended a sorority and a fraternity for violating the school’s COVID-19 policies. The suspension followed positive cases of coronavirus inside its student organizations on campus.
According to officials, the organizations are Zeta Tau Alpha and Kappa Alpha Theta and Alpha Epsilon Phi, where at least 16 women tested positive.
“By detecting possible outbreaks and identifying emerging trends, we can strengthen the university’s efforts to slow the spread of the virus and protect the health and well-being of our campus community,” Dr. Michael Deichen, associate vice president of UCF Student Health Services, wrote in an update Tuesday.
The testing will start with 100 students who belong to Greek organizations “because Greek students have been at higher risk of contracting the virus at universities throughout the country and because UCF has already had to quarantine residents of three on-campus houses,” Deichen said.
Students will be notified via email by Thursday if they are part of the first round of testing. Testing will take place in Garage A from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23. The university will cover the cost of the tests.
Deichen said random testing will continue throughout the semester in groups UCF believes may be at risk of increased rates of infection.
UCF contact tracers will follow up with anyone who tests positive and notify those who need to quarantine due to exposure.
Random tests will be required for students, faculty and staff who are selected, unless they never come to any UCF campus.
“Those who do come to campus and refuse to be tested may be required to self-isolate and remain off campus for two weeks and also may be subject to disciplinary action,” Deichen said.
Karissa Dugan is taking classes on campus and said when she learned there would be random testing it offered her a sense of security.
“I’m personally fine with it, I think it allows us as students to be more aware of more accurate numbers of what is going on around campus.”
UCF joins a chorus of institutions implementing random COVID-19 testing on campus.
“When I first saw it I was a little taken aback, I didn’t think UCF was going to be as proactive at first,” Dugan said.
Outside of random testing, UCF offers testing six days a week in Garage A from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. To request a telehealth visit to be screened for possible testing in Garage A, students, faculty and staff can call UCF’s COVID Line at 407-823-2509.