Vice President for Student Affairs Elizabeth With delivered a presentation on the university’s COVID-19 testing procedures, like offering free testing for students and finding virus “hotspots” around campus, at Wednesday’s Student Government Association senate meeting.
She began the briefing by providing a weekly schedule of the free testing available for asymptomatic students across campus. On Tuesdays, testing will be held inside the Student Health and Wellness Center rotunda in Chestnut Hall. With said any and all students are encouraged to utilize the service.
On Wednesdays and Thursdays, representatives from the health center will conduct testing at various buildings across campus. These academic buildings or residence halls are chosen based on the amount of in-person classes or general student gatherings that take place there.
With said announcements for testing opportunities outside the health center will not be released far in advance because the university wants to test only the students who would already be in the selected building. Testing available at residence halls is also only available for current residents. This is meant to help identify infection pockets around campus.
While testing students from all across campus at one building will inform the university about any possible increase in cases, With said it will not indicate the on-campus hotspots the university is trying to identify.
Symptomatic students are directed to the Student Health and Wellness Center to see a medical professional. As for why asymptomatic students receive free testing while those exhibiting symptoms are charged, With said at the SHWC, medical providers use “multiple methods” to determine if a student is infected.
The wellness center charges every student who “walks in the door” for an office visit, With said. Because the center accepts insurance, With said this charge must be administered to each student without exception. However, With said the university will work with those who struggle to finance their visit.
With said the health center has never turned away a student, even before the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked if the test charge goes to the medical staff or the university, With said it covers “nothing more than the cost to administer the test.” She said the $30 co-pay is far less than the possible amount of $100+ dollars that students would pay for an off-campus test.
With said the university’s active case count has been low, especially when compared to other Texas universities. She attributed these numbers to the university’s testing strategies, contact tracing program and its conservative approach to reopening the campus.
With said the continued efforts to test over 300 students a week is to ultimately allow students to remain on campus by reducing the amount of the university’s COVID-19 cases. President Neal Smatresk said in his State of the University address the following day the university’s rapid testing machines can testing about 200 students and staff members in a day.
Featured Image: Texas Academy of Math and Science Senator Reese Jacobs Neal takes notes during SGA meeting on Feb. 13, 2020. SGA meetings are now being held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Image by John Anderson