Could College-Wide COVID Testing Be Beneficial?

Written by on September 15, 2020

Would testing everyone on campus right now solve the coronavirus problem?

Quite honestly, I am not sure. I am not a scientist but it certainly does not seem like a bad idea at this point. The school would be able to get ahead of the curve and take care of all current active positive cases and then adjust this semester’s plans accordingly. KWU has already seen multiple cases of COVID-19 so far (5 at the time of publishing); and while they are attempting to do contact tracing it is not a perfect system. Especially with the cafeteria being essentially an open season for people to pull down their masks and shovel food in their mouths while breathing in a public place- contact tracing is not 100% effective. In addition to the multiple confirmed cases of COVID-19 on campus there is an undisclosed amount of students being quarantined both on campus in the dorms and off campus in hotel rooms. The school has not told students or faculty exactly how many students are being quarantined at this time but the cafeteria is stacked high with prepackaged lunches.

Abby Wray | KWU Student Media

Prepackaged lunches presumably for quarantined students of KWU

Yet statistically, KWU is doing well right now, especially in comparison to schools of similar sizes and within our conference- as Bethel College has 46 confirmed cases to date and a confirmed cluster located at the school. Dozens of other schools across the country have moved their students back off campus within these first few weeks and have switched to completely online classes because their schools are riddled with COVID-19.

But are Kansas Wesleyan’s low numbers of positive cases right now just because students have not been tested?

The only way to know for sure if someone has COVID is to test them. Bigger campuses, like Kansas University, are requiring every student to be tested for the coronavirus upon arrival on campus. In fact across the United States some colleges (like NYU) are requiring every student to be completely quarantined for two weeks before the beginning of classes. Only time will tell if these methods will prove fruitful.

One major indicator for COVID-19 is temperature; a fever could be a sign a person has the virus and is actively spreading it. The major problem is that not every person responds to the virus in the same way and some people are completely asymptomatic. To combat some of these issues it is recommended for people to perform temperature checks on themselves to ensure public safety.

The interesting thing is Kansas Wesleyan, as of now, is only requiring temperature checks for athletes. Coincidentally, only athletes have tested positive for coronavirus so far and most, if not all, students in quarantine are also athletes. Does this mean sports is making students more susceptible to COVID-19 or simply that the athletes are the only ones being tested at this time? It is a multilayered issue with no perfect solution. But alternatively, it does seem unproductive to not be temperature checking every student. This school is clearly an athletically driven school, but that does not discount the possibility for other students who are not involved athletically to be unknowingly COVID-19 positive right now and spreading it in the cafeteria, dorms, classrooms, and town.

Until KWU shifts its focus from one group to the bigger picture, the confirmed cases will slowly trickle in until no part of the student body, faculty, and staff are safe.

So would testing everyone on campus right now solve the coronavirus problem?
Probably not solve the problem but certainly allow the school to get ahead on this impending issue. It would be an expensive measure to take but it seems almost necessary for the continuation of this year. If the school does not take initiative now, it is possible the price to pay will be even greater after August.

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