Katelynn Singleton, Campus Carrier staff writer

Two weeks ago, Berry began testing students, faculty and staff for COVID-19. The testing was held in the Cage and was done in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the Georgia Department of Public Health. Testing began on Sept. 30 and concluded on Oct. 6. 

Those tested were required to fill out a contact tracing form and a survey while waiting for results. Out of the 2,235 rapid tests done, only 13 were positive (0.6%). 

Students were required to test with others in their residence hall to limit the number of students in the Cage Center at one time. The testss provided were a self-administered nasal swab, and results of the rapid test were determined within 20 minutes.

Chief of Staff Debbie Heida the said that students who didn’t participate in the on-campus testing have been asked to get a test off-campus and submit their results to Berry. Heida said that the majority of students have been tested and are being very cooperative.

“I really am appreciative of our entire community’s willingness to do the things that keep us safe,” Heida said. 

Berry is collaborating with the CDC as part of a research project to identify factors contributing to the spread of COVID-19 on college campuses. Additionally, the research is to determine if the current criteria for quarantine are accurate and if the amount of time a student spends in quarantine could be shortened in any way. 1,398 students filled out a survey while waiting for their results, and that data has been sent to the CDC. 

Students were asked to self-swab both nostrils during testing. According to an email from the President’s Office on Sept. 29, one of those swabs was sent to the public health department for a PCR test and another was used in a rapid antigen test on campus. All of the rapid tests have been completed. 

Heida stated that although the outbreak of cases in September was predominately among athletes, there has not been evidence of it being related to athletic practices. Berry believes that the outbreak was linked to social bubbles and that students let their guard down while with friends. 

“Take care in your social bubbles, because students are doing an extraordinary job with masks in classes and public spaces,” Heida said. “I think it’s when we go out with friends we let our guard down, and we’re not wearing our masks.”

Many students have been happy with the results. Sophomore Leah Toussaint is glad that the cases on campus weren’t as bad as everyone thought. 

“I think it was a good thing to do, because of the outbreak we had with sports teams,” Toussaint said. “So now we have an accurate number of cases.”

Freshman Jazmine Riddlehoover is glad that Berry has been taking COVID-19 seriously. She acknowledges that not everyone has the same view on COVID-19, but hopes that the recent testing has put anxious students at ease.

“Having the testing done and knowing the results, moves us toward being a safer campus,” Riddlehoover said. 

Posted by Campus Carrier

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