Can UCF force students into random COVID-19 testing?

100 students in Greek Life to be chosen for first round of random COVID-19 testing next week

Students at University of Central Florida will soon undergo random testing for COVID-19.

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – Students at University of Central Florida will soon undergo random testing for COVID-19. This comes as three Greek organization houses are in quarantine, two of them suspended for violating the school’s COVID-19 policies leading to more than a dozen students in the organization testing positive for the virus.

Three Greek houses are in quarantine - two of them including Zeta Tau Alpha and Sigma Alpha Epsilon are on interim organizational suspension for violating the school’s COVID-19 policies that may have led to the more than a dozen positive cases in the organizations. Now UCF will undergo random testing - starting with 100 students in Greek life.

Some people are wondering, ‘can the school require students to take COVID tests?’ News 6 Legal Analyst Steven Kramer says yes, under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

“What FERPA says is it gives universities and colleges very broad authority and discretion even in breaching confidentiality, even sometimes in sharing private information about whether a student is infected,” said Kramer.

Kramer also said that targeting students in Greek life is not discriminatory, but abiding by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. Students who live in Greek housing may be considered high risk because they have multiple roommates and may engage in more social interaction than other students.

“That means its more prudent to test students involved in those activities,” said Kramer.

Alisha Taylor is a senior at UCF and a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.

“I think it’s necessary especially those who are living in those houses and during recruitment. There are people that I’ve seen that still go out and party at their houses and things like that. I think the school needs to do everything they can to make sure everyone is safe,” Taylor said.

While she supports random COVID-19 testing, she thinks students need more accountability.

“That is where they need to have some type of enforcement to make sure that everybody coming into the establishments are taking the necessary precautions or unfortunately the school will shut down again,” said Taylor.

In a message sent out to students and staff, UCF said the random tests are required and those who refuse may be required to self-isolate for two weeks and may be subject to disciplinary action. UCF contact tracers will follow up with anyone who tests positive and notify those who need to quarantine due to exposure.

UCF said the first group of students chosen for the COVID-19 testing will be notified Thursday by email.

About the Author:

Crystal Moyer is a morning news anchor who joined the News 6 team in 2020.