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Monmouth College COVID-19 mass testing reveals a surprise as students return to campus for spring semester

Partnering with SHIELD Illinois to conduct mass testing on students and staff, Monmouth College says campus community test positivity rate was just 0.5% this weekend

MONMOUTH, Illinois — Returning Monmouth College students could be seen over the weekend spitting into tubes to test for COVID-19. The college partnered with SHIELD Illinois to provide the less-invasive PCR test free of charge to the campus community thanks to a $150,000 grant from the Community Health Foundation of Warren and Henderson Counties. 

"I like it a lot more," said junior Alex Taylor, who received a nose swab test last semester. "It was really uncomfortable, and this was a lot easier."

As students returned to campus from their homes across the state of Illinois and around the country, college officials were able to test more than 900 people. Only five tested positive for COVID-19.

RELATED: University of Illinois to expand saliva-based COVID-19 testing platform nation-wide

"That is a very, very low number," said Chief Information Officer Nick Carlson. "And it's surprising in a good way. We trusted our students to be safe and healthy and they have shown that they certainly are."

Monmouth College also uses an app that allows students to schedule a test and get their results. 

"It's really user friendly, there's not much you can mess up," said Megan Davis, a senior at Monmouth College and student coordinator for the SHIELD Covid testing site.

Davis said she was grateful to be on campus for her final college semester, seeing friends and professors in person.

"And knowing that everyone’s taking it seriously and they’re actually not coming back positive means that they were trying to isolate and trying to be quarantined for a couple of weeks before schools starts," she said. "It makes me proud."