Classes begin at Purdue as Protect Purdue Plan, testing and tracing work to contain expected increases in COVID-19

Purdue students begin classes today (Monday, Aug. 24) as the university continues to follow the Protect Purdue Plan to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect those who are most vulnerable through a rapid and extensive testing and tracing program.

With nearly 40,000 students having returned to the West Lafayette campus over the past two weeks, the campus community has been asked to follow detailed protocols: get tested if symptomatic, follow quarantine and isolation directions, wear masks, social distance and follow healthy practices throughout their living and learning spaces.

As of  Monday (Aug. 24), Purdue’s testing dashboard shows 41 positive tests out of 1,661 tests administered over the past seven days, including 35 students and 6 employees. 

“Thus far, the vast majority of our students are following the plan,” said Dr. Esteban Ramirez, Purdue’s medical director at the Protect Purdue Health Center. “They have reported to the Protect Purdue Health Center when symptomatic, have been tested, and those affected are isolating and in quarantine.

“The systems we have in place are working as intended as the Protect Purdue Health Center, alongside the Tippecanoe County Health Department, take all necessary steps to manage the virus effectively.”

Purdue is actively monitoring both on and off campus residential areas, including a focus on congregate housing.  Under the Protect Purdue plan, individuals testing positive for COVID-19 are quickly separated from their living area to isolate in one of Purdue’s isolation areas or in another safe area away from others.  

Individuals coming in contact with an infected individual are rapidly assessed by a dedicated team of case managers and contact tracers at the Protect Purdue Health Center (PPHC).  During the tracing process, individuals will be asked to self-quarantine.  Individuals deemed to be at high-risk for exposure are asked to further quarantine, minimizing contact with others throughout the course of the quarantine period.

An ongoing surveillance testing program for students, faculty and staff begins today (Aug. 24), with the goal of testing approximately 10 percent of the campus each week throughout the semester.

All Purdue students were required to have a negative COVID-19 test on file before checking in to residence halls or beginning classes. As of Monday, 36,155 students, approximately 91 percent of those expected to begin classes this fall, have a completed test, with 252 positive cases for a 0.7% positivity rate. Some students’ test results are pending as of Aug. 24. These figures are expected to be finalized by Aug. 31. Students with pending results are not cleared to access campus or attend in-person classes until their results are confirmed.

All faculty, staff and students are reminded that they must continue to monitor daily for symptoms in compliance with the Protect Purdue pledge. Those faculty, staff and students who are symptomatic must call the PPHC to schedule a test, follow the direction and decisions of the nurse case managers, and should stay away from campus and isolate until they are cleared by the medical team at PPHC. Each person with a positive test will be assigned a case manager from the PPHC to guide them through the testing, isolation, and contact tracing steps.

Purdue will continue to keep the community updated on the status of campus testing via the Protect Purdue website, dashboard and regular reports.