UT to discontinue PCT program after Aug. 15, offers more self-test kits

Hope Unger, News Reporter

The University will discontinue its proactive community testing program, which provides free testing to asymptomatic students, after Aug. 15, and announced in an email Monday it will offer students four free self-test kits instead of two. 

“As we prepare to start the 2022-23 academic year, we know that COVID-19 is still present,” Terrence Hines, executive director and chief medical officer for University Health Services, and Amy Young, chief clinical officer for UT Health Austin, said in the email to staff and faculty. “However, we’ve also shown that it no longer defines the way we live, learn and engage on the Forty Acres and our other campuses.”

Signs put up by Healthyhorns outside of PCT centers Monday announced the last operational day would be Aug. 15, although that information was not included in the emails. The email said four free self-test kits can be picked up at distribution sites such as the Texas Union, William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center, the front desks of all residence halls and more locations. Self-test kits are also available to order through the federal government

University Health Services will still have symptomatic testing available by appointment with a healthcare provider, and Protect Texas Together will continue to be the main source of University COVID-19 communication, the email said.

The email to students said they should complete a Class Absence Notification Form through Student Emergency Services to provide illness documentation if they are unable to attend class due to a “medical emergency.” 

“Since course requirements and flexibility will vary between classes, schools and colleges, you are responsible for understanding the expectations of your faculty members and any accommodations they offer,” the email to students said. 

UT retired the COVID-19 dashboard July 1 due to a lack of self-reporting and an increase in at-home testing. 

The email encouraged the community to update their COVID-19 vaccinations and get tested prior to coming back to campus. 

Gloria Wang, a business and Plan II junior, said people don’t always follow instructions correctly, which means self-testing could result in people getting false results.

“The PCT testing over the past two years was the only way we could get tested,” Wang said. “​​Without it, people are gonna be less encouraged to get tested. (Clinics are) not accessible … especially for students who don’t have cars or don’t have resources.”