Calvin partners with lab to test all students, staff in efforts to return to campus in the fall

Calvin is partnering with Helix Diagnostics to ensure access to COVID-19 testing, President Le Roy announced Wednesday in a campus-wide email. This partnership is the first step towards reopening the university’s physical campus in the fall and guarantees that Helix will provide access to 5,000 tests for Calvin students, staff and faculty.

“Assuming the infection rate has diminished, we will need to receive students who will be coming from all over the country. By this time we will need to be sure we can identify students, faculty, and staff who may be infected with COVID-19,” Le Roy said in his email.

The university’s website states that a majority of the tests will be used to initially screen students for the virus. The remainder will be used throughout the school year to test students who exhibit symptoms.

The partnership, which Le Roy believes to be the first of its kind in the country, was evaluated by Drs. Laura Champion and Edwin Kornoelje of Health Services and Brendan Looyenga, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Based in Waterford, MI, Helix Diagnostics advertise themselves as a “state of the art clinical laboratory” and offer toxicology, pathogen, blood and pharmacogenomics testing. In a video by Mlive, Helix reported turnaround times of 2-3 days from lab receipt for COVID-19 testing. That timeframe does not include the time it takes for tests to be shipped to their labs from a testing site.

Helix is the university’s newest employer partner and in the future will offer internships to Calvin students.

Access to testing, Le Roy said, is a crucial step towards returning to classrooms, but it’s not the only measure that will need to be taken. Students will still need to exercise caution by social distancing and sanitizing hands and surfaces.