If you needed yet another sign that we are living in unprecedented times, here you go.

Auburn is going to require all students planning to return to The Plains this fall to take a COVID test before returning to campus.

On the bright side, that’s better than Auburn handing out summer reading assignments.

Here is the official statement released by Auburn regarding the tests, which was issued on Thursday:


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Auburn will conduct COVID-19 screening tests for all students who will be on campus this fall as part of the university’s comprehensive plans for a safe and healthy semester.

Auburn joins the state’s other public higher education institutions as a participant in Gov. Kay Ivey’s “Testing for Alabama” initiative. Testing will be led by the Alabama Department of Public Health and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with costs covered by CARES Act funding made available by the State of Alabama.

“Testing students gives us a more complete picture of the health of our campus, which will in turn help us preserve the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff,” said Auburn President Jay Gogue. “The data collected will inform health strategies in our community and give our state’s public health officials information to help effectively combat the virus.”

Testing sites will be available throughout the state beginning July 25, with Beard-Eaves Coliseum as Auburn’s designated testing location. Students must be tested within 14 days prior to their return to campus. All testing outcomes are confidential, and the identity of those testing positive will not be made public.

In addition to required student reentry testing, voluntary random COVID-19 testing will be conducted weekly for Auburn students, faculty and staff, enabling local and state public health officials to identify ongoing campus and community trends and target potential problem scenarios.

Auburn’s testing efforts are a key element of “A Healthier U,” the university’s recently announced fall plans for returning to normal operations. The plan details new health and safety guidelines, campus modifications to promote physical distancing and strategic adjustments to the fall 2020 academic calendar. Additional steps to ensure campus health include reserved isolation housing for students living on-campus who test positive for the coronavirus; students living off-campus who test positive will be asked to self-quarantine until the threat of virus transmission has passed.

Protocols for test administration are still being developed, and Auburn will provide more specific information and detailed guidance, including testing locations, in the coming weeks.