Colleges and universities across the US are planning to roll out strict COVID-19 testing measures at their campuses for those starting back this Fall.
In some instances, like Cornell University in New York or Baylor in Waco, all students, faculty, and staff will be required to test negative before being admitted on campus.
Even more extreme measures are being taken by Colby College in Maine. The Associated Press reports testing will be a “routine part of campus life”. Students will be nasal swabbed twice a week throughout at least the Fall.
Perhaps more and more students must be thinking: time for a gap year?
All students will be required to provide a nasal swab every other day for two weeks, and then twice a week after that. All told, the college says it will provide 85,000 tests, nearly as many as the entire state of Maine has since the pandemic started. — AP
Currently it appears that most schools with a testing regimen in place, which they say is a necessity to prevent being forced to go to online only classes (Harvard recently announced all undergraduate classes will be conducted online, with only 40% of students invited back to campus), will only screen students once arrived, with further tests reserved only for those students showing symptoms.
Texas A&M University, for example, will use its some 15,000 tests only for those who are known to have been exposed or who are showing symptoms. Still, there’s a raging debate within the health and scientific community over testing approach and strategy, as the AP summarizes:
At Cornell University, a research team recently found that students would need to be tested every seven days to keep infections down. A separate study at Yale University and Harvard Medical School suggested that all students should be tested every two or three days. It found that testing only once a week could lead to thousands of infections over a semester.
Going to college in Boston this fall? Prepare to have cotton swabs stuck up your nose, maybe twice a week. https://t.co/DyWhrKxJJv
— Spencer Buell (@SpencerBuell) July 17, 2020
In the most common form of the test, it requires a no doubt deeply unpleasant swab deep inside a person’s nasal cavity (sometimes multiple swabs are done).
So it’s uncomfortable at best, and likely terrifying for some at worst. “It’s awful… I wish there was a better way to do it,” one health-care worker previously commented when widespread testing first rolled out in the US months ago.
However, there are high hopes that experimental and less invasive, and perhaps faster, saliva tests could be utilized, also amid a national back log of lab processing nationwide.
All this is no doubt going to give many students and their families serious pause considering they’re about to drop perhaps $30K to $40K or $50K total in tuition, dorm and campus costs for the year while being forced to get a nasal swab possibly up to twice a week.
That gap year consideration might be looking very attractive right about now, also considering the possibility that a potential outbreak on campus could take the whole school straight back to a remote learning format at any time.