The number of positive COVID-19 cases for students, faculty and staff on the University of Tulsa’s campus has been under five percent for the academic year so far, with the highest percentage of positive COVID-19 cases occurring mid-November, at 4.4 percent.
TU has followed CDC guidelines in classrooms and on campus, which has played a part in helping control the spread of COVID-19. This includes social distancing of at least 6-feet and a mask mandate on campus and smaller class sizes, as most courses are completely virtual. Some courses are hybrid, which allows students to learn in the classroom in small groups.
On Feb. 5, TU announced that the current positivity rate has been 0.5 percent, a “astoundingly low number.” Through January and February 2021, the positivity rate has never been over one percent, according to the data that TU provides.
Since the start of the academic year, TU has implemented continuous testing, randomly picking students and faculty to be tested throughout both semesters in effort to prevent those who are asymptomatic from spreading the virus on campus. During the fall 2020 semester, TU provided free COVID-19 tests through IMMY labs.
This semester, TU switched to Certigen Labs, which only provides self-administered tests through a drive-thru. Although students and faculty must now provide federal government-issued ID and proof of insurance, TU promises to cover any costs associated with receiving a test.
As a reflection of the low positivity rates, students are now allowed to have guests over at their apartments or dormitories, as long as the guests wear masks and observe social distancing policies. They must also be a fellow student or the student’s family member or significant other.
TU has stated that students can look forward to a more typical college experience within the next academic year, although there will still be the flexibility of hybrid classes. TU still plans on “adhering to local and federal guidelines.”
Although the pandemic will most likely persist through the next academic year, the low positivity rate and the increasing number of people vaccinated means that life on campus can start to look a little bit more like it did prior to COVID-19, with in-person classes and the usual events from student organizations and clubs on campus.
Other campuses, such as University of Oklahoma, have experienced spikes of positive COVID-19 cases (up to almost 20 percent at some points in January and February) on their campus, although they have had little to no positive cases in March as of this writing.
The University of Oklahoma has had slightly higher positivity rates; as of March 2, OSU-Stillwater, the main campus, had a 2.94 percent positivity rate, although the number of positive cases has been on a downward trend since mid-February.
However, the pandemic is not over, as states are still dealing with the spread of virus through the community. Social distancing, masks and frequent hand-washing are still going to be important for slowing the spread of the virus until more of the community receives COVID-19 vaccinations.
To schedule a COVID-19 test visit https://utulsa.edu/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/