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The Symptomatic Student Testing Center on the campus of Montana State University is testing students Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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Montana State University plans to extend its asymptomatic testing of students living on campus and is encouraging students to get tested on a weekly basis.

As the university enters its third week of the spring semester, it’s expanding access to the rapid tests kits past its initial rollout of two weeks but access will still be limited to students in residence halls.

“The asymptomatic tests were originally offered only for the first two weeks of classes, but supplies of test kits will allow the testing to be offered beyond that period,” the university said in a statement. “MSU is encouraging residence hall students to schedule tests regularly, even on a weekly basis.”

The university has completed about 150 of the asymptomatic tests since the start of the semester on Jan. 11, said Michael Becker, MSU spokesman. The testing center has also administered about 240 symptomatic tests in that time period.

There were 47 new COVID-19 cases associated with MSU in the last week, according to Gallatin City-County Health Department. Since Jan. 1 there have been 116 cases associated with the university.

The tests are available by appointment at the university’s student testing center near Bobcat Stadium, where they have also been offering free symptomatic testing since the start of the fall semester.

The asymptomatic tests are rapid test kits provided to the Montana University System by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services from its federal supply.

Becker said the university received 3,400 test kits initially and there’s the possibility of acquiring additional tests if there’s the need for them.

He estimated there were 3,150 students living in the residence halls this semester with an additional 1,200 living in Family-Graduate Housing, which includes children and spouses.

The tests are the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card, a rapid test kit that is designed to be easy to use and have results within 15 to 30 minutes. The BinaxNOW test gained emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration toward the end of 2020.

In the beginning of the month, Brock Tessman, deputy commissioner of academic, research and student affairs with the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, said the university system had received about 5,000 of the test kits.

The kit uses a nasal swab that is inserted into a test card, and the whole process is supervised by a trained medical professional.

Due to limited supply, the university system had limited the asymptomatic tests for students living in on-campus housing to prevent the virus spreading to roommates and other close contacts. Tessman previously said the asymptomatic testing would limit the spread of the virus and lighten the load on campus’s quarantine and isolation housing.

“These tests add to our toolkit for keeping the risk of virus transmission as low as possible,” Becker said in a statement. “We continue to urge students to wear their masks, socially distance, wash their hands and seek out a symptomatic test as soon as possible if they have symptoms.”

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Liz Weber can be reached at lweber@dailychronicle.com or 582-2633.