By Lauren Sieh
Finals are approaching, and students are starting to prepare to head home. The risk for students bringing home COVID-19 is high, especially since campus cases are beginning to rise again.
Although Southwestern is giving COVID-19 tests regularly, there is no plan for students to participate in departure testing.
Departure testing is the mandatory testing of the student body before they head home for winter break. It helps identify positive cases and keeps the virus from spreading off-campus.
Schools like Vanderbilt University, Penn State University, the University of Rochester and the University of Michigan have detailed plans for transitioning back home, including departure testing as one of the steps.
Dan Falk, dean of students, and Lock Schnelle, head athletic trainer, have confirmed that Southwestern College will not be distributing mandatory departure tests. However, on Nov. 18, Falk sent an email to students encouraging them to take a test before leaving campus.
Multiple students have expressed that college should provide mandatory testing before heading home.
Haleigh Johnson, biology junior, said, “Southwestern College should provide departure testing. As they tested everyone once we stepped foot onto campus, they should have the same priority when students are leaving.”
“We would not want our families or other individuals contracting this virus due to our lack of testing when students are returning home,” said Johnson.
Zachary Reed, biochemistry senior, and Jonah Robson, biochemistry junior, agreed with Johnson about the college providing departure tests.
If the college were to provide mandatory testing, there would need to be a quarantine period after the test, just like the one at the beginning of the semester.
Reed said, “I do not think it would have to be a full 14 days unless you are showing symptoms, but I think that a seven-day quarantine would be effective to lower the chances of the spread.”
Robson does not think it would be necessary to quarantine students before they leave. However, he sees the importance of departure testing, whereas if a student tests positive, they could stay isolated at the college for a few weeks before heading home to limit the virus’s spread.
Johnson believes that the quarantine period needs to be mandated as students might not participate on their own as they are eager to go home.
“Departure testing is an effective way to stop the virus from spreading into outer communities”, said Robson.
Johnson said, “Departure testing would be effective to check for any students without symptoms that contracted the virus.”
Reed said, “It would reduce spread. It would look better for Southwestern College to do something along those lines. It shows that they care about our families at home as well as the students here.”
Southwestern College is still distributing test to athletes and students that have been in contact with positive cases. The college has made a point to allow any other student access to testing before going home; however, it is not mandatory.