Sept. 4, 2020 | By Bella Staal | Photo by Patil Khakhamian
The past few weeks have been an ongoing succession of changing plans. On Tuesday, Colorado College announced that they would be greatly reducing the number of students on campus as well as the number of classes held in the in-person or hybrid format. This raises a number of questions, and some students who will continue living on campus or in Colorado Springs may be wondering how access to testing will be affected by these changes.
As of writing this article, the testing procedure remains the same as it was at the beginning of the semester. The school is administering random tests and students experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are advised to arrange a consultation with the health center. According to the COVID-19 resources page on testing, the consultation will determine if it is “medically appropriate” for a student to get a test.
The chair of CC’s COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Board, Andrea Bruder, said that the tests being administered by UCHealth and Optum are Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s page on coronavirus testing, PCR tests are a type of molecular diagnostic test that detects the virus’ genetic material. Getting results can take anywhere from one day to a few days.
For students living off-campus who are worried about access to tests in the coming months, Bruder said that “there was consensus among the members of the Scientific Advisory Group that students living off campus and unauthorized to use campus facilities, should be included in testing protocols.”
This is in line with the current protocol. As for the other steps being taken to contain the virus, “as long as campus facilities are open to students, randomized testing and contact tracing will continue, as this is the only way — when combined with social distancing, mask wearing, and hand washing protocols — to prevent large outbreaks,” said Bruder.
For those who are curious about getting tested if they are experiencing symptoms, Chelsea Barrett ’21, a student currently living off-campus, said it was fairly straightforward. She got tested last week after she started experiencing headaches and body aches. She called the student health center the following day and was able to come in on that day. Despite the fact that she lives off-campus, she said that the person she spoke with was “immediately reassuring” about her ability to get tested.
Upon arriving at the health center, she was told to download the UC Health app, and through the app she was able to video call with a doctor and medical assistant about her symptoms. She got tested immediately after the call and received her negative results about a day and a half later. She was also contacted by the contact tracing team, who asked her about who on campus she had been in contact with.
Getting tested without symptoms, although, may be more difficult. Thelonius Breskin ’22, who had been in an in-person discussion group with Chelsea on the day that she began experiencing symptoms, was unable to get a test from the student health center.
For students who are concerned about the cost of testing, the school seems to be keeping with their policy from March. That is, for students who are enrolled in the Anthem Student Health Insurance Plan, their insurance will waive co-pays “for all diagnostic testing related to COVID-19,” according to an email sent out in March 2019. CC Communications was contacted for this article but had not yet provided a response at the time of writing.