Purdue University’s Mitch Daniels on back to school during coronavirus

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Students who want to return to campus at Purdue University in Indiana this fall will have to be tested for the coronavirus, school president, Mitch Daniels, told CNBC on Wednesday. 

Every student “will have to submit a negative test prior to moving into a residence hall or attending the first class,” Daniels said on “Squawk Box.”

The university will be requiring “every member of the Boilermaker community” to sign the Protect Purdue Pledge, agreeing to assume personal responsibility for monitoring and reporting Covid-19 symptoms and agreeing to “participate in testing and contact tracing to preserve the wellness of the community.”

Purdue University, whose main campus is located in West Lafayette, will also have strict policies on wearing face masks on campus and taking other steps to reduce the density on campus. Purdue has more than 40,000 students.

Daniels said Purdue’s plan will include testing anyone who exhibits any symptoms “immediately.” He added, “We may do some surveillance testing on top of that.”

Purdue estimates its testing protocols will cost “in the millions,” Daniels said. The overall cost of preparing the campus for the fall, including the “miles of Plexiglas” that is being installed, will be in the “tens of millions” of dollars, he added.

“No one says this will be easy but the cost of not attempting it in the lives, in our case tens of thousands of young people, would not be acceptable,” said Daniels, who was one of the earliest voices this spring to advocate for college students to return to campus despite the threat of the coronavirus. He outlined preliminary plans to do so in April.

The Republican former Indiana governor’s comments Wednesday come as more colleges and universities announce their plans to return students to campus this fall. Harvard University announced that it will test students on campus every three days. Cornell University will test all its students upon their return to campus, and then test them once a week afterward.

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