Testing has become more important than ever with vaccination against COVID-19 progressing slowly and the third wave of infections showing significant momentum. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) states:
“Testing is an essential part of a comprehensive pandemic response strategy: It is the basis for detecting and treating infections in a timely manner, breaking chains of infection and protecting our health care system from excessive strain. Testing also helps to identify the number and distribution of infected persons in Germany and consequently helps to obtain a better and more accurate view of the situation on a daily basis. Testing does not exempt anyone from observing the AHA+L rules (i.e. keeping a minimum distance, observing hygiene measures, wearing a mask and ventilating regularly), necessary hygiene precautions and symptom-monitoring in facilities and institutions” (RKI 2021, rev. 17/4/2021).
A distinction between PCR tests and antigen tests needs to be made. The latter are available as rapid antigen tests carried out by medically trained personnel in testing centres, pharmacies, chemist’s shops (drugstores) etc. and as so-called self-tests for the public which can be easily used without previous experience in testing.
We will implement a testing strategy at TU Darmstadt on 22 April 2021. In this context, testing will be an additional measure to help identify otherwise undetected infections to help increase safety. The applicable coronavirus regulations of TU Darmstadt (i.e. Hygiene and infection control concept (for everybody) and instructions and guidelines (for employees and staff) remain in full force and effect and must be observed until further notice. The following continues to apply to employees and staff: Mobile work (“home office first”) is the rule. Only if the tasks involved need presence on site, an exception from mobile work can be granted. The following applies to students and university teachers: As a rule, studying and teaching take place digitally. Very few courses, such as laboratory work or practical sport exercises, do not fall under this rule.
TU Darmstadt offers four different testing options to its members whose presence on site for teaching, research and administrative purposes is imperative:
1. Rapid-testing centres: TU Darmstadt fulfils its responsibilities to society
We consider it our duty to increase the number of testing facilities available for members of TU Darmstadt and the citizens of Darmstadt. In cooperation with the Studierendenwerk (student affairs), we can now offer premises on Campus Lichtwiese and Campus Stadtmitte. CoviMedical, a nationwide provider of corona testing centres, offers its services at these locations. Rapid tests will be carried out free of charge by medically trained personnel. Every citizen has the right to be tested at least once per week.
2. Voluntary self-testing for employees and staff
All employees and staff members are urged to continue working from home. Any employees and staff members who are required to work in person on site will be offered voluntary self-testing twice a week by TU Darmstadt. This is in line with the offer made available to other employees of the State of Hesse. A first batch of test kits is expected for delivery in the course of 22 April 2021. This regulation will at first be in effect for 13 weeks. The test kits will be made available to the departmental offices and the head offices of the central services where they will be distributed as necessary.
Employees and staff are required to go home immediately in case of a positive test result. They are also required to inform the Health at TU Darmstadt team and to have a PCR test carried out. Please observe the Guide for employees, staff and students in case of a COVID-19 infection.
3. Voluntary self-testing for students
Like employees and staff, students can make use of self-tests twice a week if they need to be on campus to attend a course in person on site or to work on their theses. They will get self-test kits from their teachers or instructors or from the head of their working groups at the department where they need to be on site. Students will self-test personally. They are required to go home immediately in case of a positive test result. They are also required to inform the Health at TU Darmstadt team and to have a PCR test carried out. Please observe the Guide for employees, staff and students in case of a COVID-19 infection.
4. Obligatory self-testing for students
For a very limited number of practical courses in the sports sciences, obligatory testing before the start of each course session will be implemented. These are courses in which the Hygiene and infection control concept cannot be observed entirely at all times (such as indoor contact sports, sporting activities and sports requiring assistance/spotting to prevent injuries while training). The Hygiene and infection control concept in its current version states how to proceed for these courses. A list can be viewed online. There will be a station set up for self-testing on the premises of the university stadium. Students will self-test themselves under supervision. Alternatively, they can present a negative same-day test result from a testing centre. They are required to go home immediately in case of a positive test result. They are also required to inform the Health at TU Darmstadt team and to have a PCR test carried out. Please observe the Guide for employees, staff and students in case of a COVID-19 infection .