The COVID-19 plan for the fall of 2020 was no doubt a failure. There was no required testing, crowds of students were playing spikeball with no masks and videos of students partying were all over social media. This semester, NC State has a lot more at stake. If they aren’t able to keep us on campus this spring, it’ll be their third semester in a row where students have had to be sent home.
This semester, all students were required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before coming back to campus. Those included in this category were students living in residence halls and Greek Village, any student enrolled in an in-person or hybrid class, anyone working on campus, students living within a 1-mile radius of campus and all faculty and employees. Although these efforts are greater than those of last semester, the University must take a stronger stance on COVID-19 testing in order to truly protect the health of all its students and employees.
While these students and employees were required to have a negative entry test, many of them are not a part of the University’s weekly surveillance program. Only students living in residence halls, University Towers, E.S. King Village, Western Manor, Wolf Village and Greek Village are required to test on a weekly basis. And yet, students off campus are still not required to test on a weekly basis.
Not only does the University’s weekly testing program miss an entire group of students who interact on campus daily, it’s also not as strongly enforced as it originally claimed to be. Students are only notified by email on days where they must be tested. Most students don’t check their emails on a regular basis, making the University’s efforts to send reminders almost meaningless.
I'm not the only one who has issues with COVID-19 testing on campus — in fact, both my friends, Kaia Patel and Reshma Goud, have also expressed similar concerns. Patel, a first-year studying engineering, said text reminders on the day where testing is required would be helpful for students. Goud, a first-year studying biological sciences and biochemistry, said creating an app to manage student testing could be beneficial to students. She said she believes the HealthyPack Portal could be formatted into an app and also serve as a place for students to track and update their weekly test results.
Both of these suggestions would solve many of the issues students face when it comes to COVID-19 testing on campus. The fact that so many of my friends feel the need to suggest better alternatives to current testing strategies also emphasizes the need for change in the University’s COVID-19 surveillance program.
Although the University has taken greater steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus, they are not doing enough. There is a large chunk of students who interact with NC State’s campus on a daily basis and are not required to test for COVID-19. Any of these students can walk through the doors of Talley Student Union or Carmichael Gym without testing for weeks, essentially making our efforts to contain the virus meaningless. The University must intensify their testing requirements and find more effective ways to hold students accountable for their weekly testing.