CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With students returning to campus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, it's proven important for school leaders to test students for coronavirus — and UNCC has an unconventional way to test students.
When students come back to school at UNCC, they'll be getting welcome bags with masks, sanitizer and thermometers. But a swab up the nose or a blood sample aren't the only ways to tell if someone has COVID-19 — UNCC officials say they will be using wastewater to test for COVID-19.
"If we see elevated levels in wastewater we can do testing and isolation and quarantine," UNCC Chancellor Sharon Gaber said.
The university will focus its sampling in the residence halls — health officials will be going off of what comes through the pipes underneath the building. If COVID-19 is identified, then campus officials can determine where it came from, and enact group testing.
Group testing is expected at campuses across the country that will have students living and learning in close quarters. Mecklenburg County's Health Director Gibbie Harris said Wednesday she fully expects outbreaks will be inevitable.
UNCC already has the labs and technology to perform the tests, making campus leaders hopeful that wastewater surveillance will be a cheap and manageable way to potentially stop an outbreak in its tracks.