At least 2 Indianapolis universities not requiring COVID-19 testing for students returning to campus

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Colleges preparing to welcome students back to campus are taking varied approaches to COVID-19 testing, a key component in identifying outbreaks and preventing further spread.

At least two Indianapolis universities are relying on social responsibility and not mandating testing for all students: Butler University and the University of Indianapolis.

“Although we are not requiring entry testing, we request that all students (undergraduate, graduate, or professional students) get tested for COVID-19 at least seven days prior to arriving on campus,” a Butler spokesperson said in an emailed statement to News 8.

Pandemic-related policies and plans at Butler “will be updated as needed,” according to the university’s website.

Students were split on the testing debate.

Becca Greenberg, a Butler junior from California, said she was “okay with it just being recommended” and applauded the university’s handling of pandemic-related changes.

“I personally haven’t been to any areas where I feel that I would have been exposed and I’m not particularly high-risk either,” Greenberg told News 8.

Maggie Hoffman, another Butler junior, said she was “slightly concerned” not all of her classmates would choose to get tested without a university mandate.

“Students are coming from everywhere across the country and some places have [higher] rates than others. So it’s definitely slightly concerning,” Hoffman said.

UIndy will require all staff, faculty, students and visitors to self-screen for COVID-19 symptoms before arriving on campus. The university will provide symptomatic testing through its relationship with Community Health Network and testing centers across Indianapolis, a UIndy spokesperson said.

Purdue University and Indiana University are among the institutions requiring COVID-19 testing for students returning to campus.

Purdue students living on campus in the fall must have negative test results on file with the university health center before moving in to their residence halls. Students living off campus must have negative test results on file with the university health center before attending in-person classes or participating in on-campus programs.

IU will require pre-arrival and on-arrival testing, as well as surveillance testing and random sampling of students, faculty and staff during the semester.

Students who live in residents halls or Greek houses at IU Bloomington, IUPUI, IU Southeast and IU South Bend must undergo diagnostic or viral testing in the 10 days before moving in. Upon arrival, students who live on campus must get saliva tests, which produce results in approximately 20 minutes.

All off-campus students at IU Bloomington and a “large number of [off-campus] IUPUI students” will be tested before classes start, an IU spokesperson said.

A study published Friday in an American Medical Association journal found “the safe reopening of campuses in fall 2020 may require screening every two days, uncompromising vigilance and continuous attention to good prevention practices.”

Testing college students every other day with lower quality tests that catch 70% of positive cases is cost effective and could control infections more effectively than testing once a week with a higher quality test, according to researchers. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if, eventually, getting tested is required [by Butler],” Greenberg said.