SARASOTA, Fla. — At Ringling College, COVID-19 safety protocols include testing, mandatory masks and temperature checks, but now they’re taking it one step further by testing student’s wastewater.
"It’s in human waste. It's in anything you would flush down the toilet," said Gary Serviss, of VHB Gulf Coast.
The school is working with VHB, a civil engineering and design consultancy firm, to test wastewater in its biggest dorms.
A sample is collected and sent to a testing facility in Massachusetts. Within a couple of days, they get the results.
Ringling College finance and administration vice president Tracy Wagner says the idea is to catch the virus early, before students may show symptoms.
"So it allows us to really get ahead of a potential outbreak," said Wagner.
Wagner says Ringling is one of the first colleges in the state to test dorm wastewater for COVID-19.
They say, so far, all tests have been negative. If there is a positive sample then everyone in that dorm will be tested.
"It's one more tool to help mitigate the risk and if we do detect something we’ll be able to get on it as quickly as possible to help maintain the health and safety of our campus," said Wagner.