Carroll College announced Monday plans to conduct more than 1,500 COVID-19 tests on returning students this fall.
The announcement comes after Carroll College's board of trustees voted to allocate funding to provide a COVID-19 test to every student as they return to campus this fall. The administration is also asking that each student self-quarantine for 14 days prior to coming to campus.
The current move-in date has students arriving on Aug. 14 and 15 on a staggered schedule.
Currently, the college is finalizing procedures for testing and plans to provide an update on Wednesday, Aug. 5. President John Cech said they plan to set up testing tents on campus and will work with both on and off-campus students to schedule times to be tested in advance of classes starting on Aug. 17.
Additionally, faculty and staff testing has already started.
If a student tests positive, there are required to follow quarantine and isolation procedures, according to Cech.
"We will work with any COVID-positive students to ensure that their health needs are being met," he said. "And that they can start classes remotely, complete quarantine and move forward with their education."
If a student refuses to be tested, the college cannot force a test onto a student. Cech said he believes the students will "recognize the value of this and the importance of it and they will want to be good community members." Cech didn't mention any further repercussions for students who refuse testing.
Cech said the hope behind this testing is to ensure the college is doing everything possible to start the term "as COVID-19 free as possible." This is largely because the college remains committed to having an in-person semester and keeping it safe.
"By testing all students, we can quickly isolate cases if necessary," Cech said. "Of course, we are also making sure students have masks, are practicing good hygiene and are maintaining social distance as possible."
Cech said Carroll is one of the first Montana colleges to facilitate rapid turnaround testing for all of it's students.
"Their safety is our No. 1 priority," Cech said. "This program in addition to our comprehensive COVID procedures included in our Marching Back plan will have a significant impact on our ability to start school in a safe environment."
Earlier this month the college announced that multiple students on campus had tested positive for COVID-19 and that it was working with county health officials on contact tracing.