WACO, TX — Changes are waiting for Baylor students when they return to classes on January 19th.
The university announced Thursday all students, staff and faculty will be required to get tested for COVID-19 on a weekly basis during the spring semester.
"Right now we want it to be that they're not only protecting themselves, that they are protecting the health and safety of their fellow students and faculty and staff and others on our campus and within the Waco community," said Lori Fogleman, Baylor University spokesperson.
In the Fall 2020 semester, the pandemic forced new guidelines throughout campus, including mandatory face masks, social distancing and, at times, virtual classes.
In partnership with testing partners, the university has invested in testing over 22,000 people every week at several testing locations across campus as well as mobile units for those off-site.
"We do have clinical staff who are there to be able to watch and make sure it's done correctly. Plus, we have a PCR test and that is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing," Fogleman explained.
The goal is to get a more accurate case number, which is reported on their online COVID-19 dashboard, as well as open up the possibility of in-person events this spring.
"Regular testing along with mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing, those will be the key to unlocking additional normalcy on campus this semester," Fogleman said.
Much like the fall semester, if students don't cooperate with the new rules, they could face suspension or expulsion.
"I'm okay with it. I know we had random testing last semester, but as long as we get to come back and get in-person classes again, I'm willing to do it," said freshman Angelica Lechler.
Weekly coronavirus testing is expected to begin some point in late January.
Students who test positive will need to quarantine for 10 days. They will also need to inform their professors as well as campus officials so they can help provide food and other things during quarantine.
All students and staff are required to present a negative COVID-19 test before returning to campus this spring semester.