By Regina Stracqualursi

Earlier this year, colleges and universities across the globe suspended campus operations and pivoted to remote instruction as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This fall, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students, faculty, and staff worked together to return to campus for an in-person living and learning experience.

As part of the Institute’s return-to-campus plan, an on-campus COVID-19 testing facility was created to frequently test all Rensselaer community members. Run by the Student Health Center, the facility helps identify individual cases of COVID-19 early on, to contain potential outbreaks.

During the fall semester, the testing facility has conducted roughly 7,000 tests per week and more than 74,000 tests in total thus far. The tests are administered via a nasal swab and processed by a research group led by Jonathan Dordick, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, in the Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy, New York.

With the help of added safety protocols, such as mask-wearing, social distancing, campus de-densification, staggered dining arrangements, and a combination of in-person and remote instruction, students have been able to continue living and learning alongside one another despite the continuing pandemic.

“Most of the Class of 2020 went into their freshman year thinking that it was probably going to be ruined due to COVID,” said Jordan Benoit, a first-year student in business and management. “There’s a lot of different things we’ve had to do, but I think it helps us become stronger and more independent.”