I just submitted my negative COVID-19 test results on Healthy Pack Portal. Have you? Well, you probably don’t have to if you don’t fall under these categories: employees working in face-to-face capacities, students living in residence halls and students living within 1 mile of campus.
NC State is also now doing surveillance testing for certain “populations” on campus. These populations were the primary cause of COVID-19 clusters last semester, not that it was all their fault. Other members that must be a part of this surveillance testing are critical research employees and face-to-face graduate teaching assistants and professors. These populations are getting tested weekly, while other COVID-19 cluster causers — such as off-campus apartment students — only need to provide one negative test prior to the start of the semester.
This negative test has to be taken five days before the beginning of classes, but who’s to say that off-campus students didn’t engage in any partying the night after or before their negative results? There’s too much time to be accounted for, and not enough accountability being placed on NC State and these apartment complexes. Students living off-campus still frequently access NC State’s on-campus facilities, and so all students living in the Raleigh area should be tested at regular intervals.
While I am very grateful for the expansion of testing for students at no cost, when compared to UNC-Chapel Hill’s plan, NC State’s looks like child’s play.
According to Carolina Together, UNC-CH divides up their testing groups based on proximity to campus and other factors:
Group 1 includes undergraduate students who have in-person classes, live on campus, live in a residence with more than 10 people or live in the Granville Tower complex. These individuals are required to be tested before arriving, re-entering campus, and they must be tested twice a week.
Group 2 also includes undergraduate students, ones who don’t have in-person classes and don’t live in any of the locations from Group 1. However, if they even live in the Chapel Hill and Carrboro area, they are required to get tested before arrival, re-entry and mandatory testing once a week.
There are four groups beneath these that come with their own rules and required or voluntary testing procedures.
By taking the time to continuously test these divided groups on campus based on their needs, this plan provides safety and less anxiety for its students. NC State, on the other hand, hasn’t even factored in the irresponsibility of some of its student body and only offers a half-hearted attempt to test its students. UNC-Chapel Hill recognizes the mistakes it made last semester and is actively trying to correct them. By expanding its testing to this extent, it is already a step ahead of NC State.
We must be proactive instead of reactive in the face of this pandemic, and we can start by actually following through with the mask policy on campus. Like Chapel Hill, NC State has a website to report individuals who don’t comply with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/campus guidelines that all students have access to. While it isn’t a save-all, students reporting these incidents would definitely help NC State enforce COVID-19 guidelines more effectively.
While I know student conduct provides a list of repercussions one might face for not complying with CDC guidelines, it feels like these rules were only enforced when completely necessary, such as when NC State was under fire for the influx of clusters last fall, and those will inevitably occur if proper precautions aren’t met.
We must demand that NC State further commits itself to expand testing and enforcing these rules if we plan to make it to the end of this semester.