COVID-19 testing across NC State’s campus has left many students with questions about surveillance testing, weekly testing, vaccination cards and more.
Tyler Pearce, the assistant director of Student Health Services, focuses on community health in regards to NC State’s campus.
“We’re still doing a lot of testing on campus,” Pearce said. “So far, this semester, starting on around the ninth of August, until now, we’ve done about 35,000 tests. Over the summer, we did probably 23,000 tests, so we’ve really crushed that number. Testing is free and available all over campus, pretty much. We have four sites running everyday, at least.”
Grant Eubanks, a first-year studying engineering, went through surveillance COVID-19 testing at the Witherspoon Student Center testing site.
“You’re sort of elevated in the line and when you get your information processed and get your test, you go into this sunken testing area where there’s about four testing stations and it feels like you’re in a gladiator ring, but instead of fighting, everyone is just sticking stuff up their nose,” Eubanks said. “After that, I didn’t really know what to do. I was a little disoriented, but you sort of just go through and get funneled out and drop your test into a bin and get rushed out of there, and that was it.”
Pearce explained that enforcement of weekly testing is done through University Housing.
“If you are required to get tested weekly and you miss your first one, typically, you will get a common email reminder,” Pearce said. “After two missed weeks, I believe [University Housing] goes and tries to talk to the individual in-person to make sure they know, and then, once we get to three or four weeks, students will go through Student Conduct and disciplinary action can be taken.”
Student Health Services’ coronavirus FAQ page and COVID-19 resources email, email@example.com, are great ways to get more information about testing and resources regarding COVID-19 on campus.
“We try to keep our FAQ pages as up-to-date as possible,” Pearce said. “The COVID-19 resources email is a pretty good point of contact for individuals. In all the FAQ pages, there are a lot of links to other FAQs, so if you have questions specific to [University Housing] or isolation and quarantine, it’ll link from all the other FAQs to those specific ones, and those sites will have email addresses.”
Due to the number of uploads, processing vaccination documentation has proven to be a challenge for Student Health Service staff members.
“Vaccination cards have been a bit of a stumbling block,” Pearce said. “Kudos to all of the staff here at [Student Health Services] because we have gotten through a ton of documents that people have uploaded. We have gotten through somewhere in the neighborhood of about 35,000 documents since July and those are the same people here working in the clinic doing the actual student health work, so they’re working extremely hard to get through those as fast as they can.”
Students may experience delays in receiving verification that their vaccination cards have been submitted into the HealthyPack Portal.
“If people have already uploaded their vaccine card and have not heard back or have not been confirmed, we encourage them to not reupload it because it could set them back in the queue to get verified,” Pearce said. “If they do have questions about that, they can always email the COVID-19 resources email address.”
Students continuing to get the email for weekly testing after they have submitted their vaccination card should continue to get tested until they receive their exemption email.
Sydney Kuczenski, a fourth-year studying marine sciences and applied ecology, has gone through surveillance testing three times in the past month.
“All of the times I had to go, it was spontaneous,” Kuczenski said. “I would get that email that someone in my class had tested positive, and so it was kind of like I’ve got to get it done as fast as possible.”
Like Eubanks, Kuczenski also went to the Witherspoon testing site.
“I usually end up there around 3 p.m., and the lines are out the door,” Kuczenski said. “There’s at least 30 people between the line out the door and the line of people inside. I want to say it moves quickly, but it moves as quickly as 30 people in line move. All-in-all, you’re waiting like 20 minutes. They have Xs on the ground, so people are pretty good about wearing masks and social distancing. Other than that, you go in, swipe your [student ID], they’ll ask for your name and birthdate, then they’ll give you your COVID-19 test baggy and you’ll do the swabs. Once you go through the line, it’s a pretty quick process.”
Students displaying COVID-19 symptoms, who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 or are sick are encouraged to make an appointment to get tested at Student Health Services instead of going through the surveillance testing sites across campus.
“If you are sick, if you are displaying symptoms, it’s good to see a doctor. … There are a lot of diseases and sicknesses going around right now,” Pearce said. “It’s not just COVID-19 that we’re seeing, so just because you get a negative COVID-19 test doesn’t mean you might not be positive for, coming up soon, the flu or [Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)] is going around right now.”
Pearce said NC State’s testing benefits the entire campus community.
“It’s free, it’s easy, it’s super simple, it’s open to anyone, any student, faculty or staff member with an email address and a unity ID,” Pearce said. “I know sometimes it might be a burden or it might be a little out of the way, but it really is for the health and the wellness of our campus to make good, informed decisions as a campus.”
Eubanks said the campus testing centers are a good option for people on campus.
“I didn’t have to make an appointment, which was one of the best parts about it,” Eubanks said. “If you want to get tested and you have a free half-hour, it’s probably the best option if you live on campus. It was kind of relatively painless.”
Taking proper precautions when getting tested for COVID-19 is important to many students like Kuczenski.
“Wear your mask if you’re in line,” Kuczenski said. “Everyone that’s going has been told they are at possible risk or someone around them has had [COVID-19], so I feel like if you’re in that line, you need to be wearing a mask and social distancing and taking proper precautions. And if you do test positive, let your teachers and employers know.”
Pearce encourages people to get vaccinated.
“If you haven’t already, I would encourage anyone that is on or around campus, any person in general, that is eligible to get a vaccine,” Pearce said. “We are still offering COVID-19 vaccines here at [Student Health Services].”
Student Health Services is also offering a third Pfizer vaccination shot to moderately to severely immunocompromised individuals.
Go to the Student Health Services coronavirus FAQ page or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about COVID-19 testing on campus.
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