To the University and VCU Health System Community,
Last spring it was immediately apparent that many students, particularly freshmen and first-generation students, faced significant challenges with remote learning. We knew it was important in the fall to offer a range of choices to students for remote and on-campus learning. The administration, particularly the Provost’s Office, worked closely with the deans and the Faculty Senate leadership, which represents VCU’s faculty in the university’s shared governance structure.
The result is that faculty worked diligently to offer what equates to a 17% total on-campus course enrollment. We appreciate the partnership of the Faculty Senate and the thoroughness and care in which individual faculty members have revamped their courses for a quality digital and in-person learning experience.
At the same time, enormous effort has been undertaken across the university to establish safety protocols for the return to campus that include COVID-19 testing for students living in on-campus housing and prevalence testing to monitor the existence of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff.
Media reports, based on a letter from six faculty members representing the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) chapters at VCU and George Mason University sent to the state health department, raised concern about the testing, which is largely managed by a VCU and VCU Health vendor, Kallaco.
Kallaco confirms that testing provided through their laboratory partners has all of the licenses required in the United States. Kallaco further confirms that, as an extra step, the testing methodology has been submitted to the FDA and the Kallaco laboratory partners have the authority to run the tests under FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) guidelines.
Also, according to Kallaco, the collection kits used by their laboratory partners have been internally validated and submitted to the FDA under the EAU guidelines. The tests are analyzed by qualified medical professionals in labs that comply with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) regulations. Kallaco continues to work with FDA as new guidance and requirements evolve for testing. Kallaco’s information and the company’s entire response/statement is available here.
VCU partnered with Kallaco to assist with implementing the return to campus plan, specifically to support our ability to test for COVID-19. We acknowledge Kallaco is a new technology company; in fact, most companies in this space are new. They are being held accountable as is any company doing business with VCU and the VCU Health System.
To date, Kallaco has delivered and analyzed 4,401 COVID-19 entry tests for our residential students. The results allowed 4,386 students who tested negative (99.7% of those tested) to move into student housing and 15 others who tested positive to seek appropriate care.
Additionally, VCU Health System is working with the lab network created by Kallaco to provide prevalence testing. This collaboration to source critical resources together bolsters the testing supply for the community, patients, students and employees. We continue to monitor the appropriate sourcing of testing as we move into the semester.
We recognize that this is an uncertain time for our community. None of us has faced a challenge like this. But if we all commit to working together to follow guidelines for physical distancing, wear clean masks, avoid large social gatherings and proper hand washing and disinfection, we can help to limit the spread of COVID-19 at VCU.
President, VCU and VCU Health System