Ohio University recently asked students in Bromley and Pickering halls to report to the university’s CVS testing location for a rapid-result COVID-19 test in order to monitor potential COVID-19 outbreaks within those residence halls.
This Spring Semester, OU implemented a housing advisory system that monitors COVID-19 risk levels within all campus residence halls. The system features four levels, each of which have a corresponding color representing the percentage of COVID-19 cases within that residence hall in the last seven days.
On Feb. 4, residents in Pickering received an email alerting them the hall had reached level 3, or red alert status, in which 5% to 9.9% of all residents had tested positive for COVID-19.
In order to monitor the potential outbreak in Pickering, all students were asked to report to OU’s CVS testing location by 6 p.m. the next day for a rapid COVID-19 test.
“It was a self-swab,” Delaney Brander, a freshman studying education who lives in Pickering, said. “It's not that invasive.”
Students in Bromley were also asked Jan. 26 to report to the CVS testing center within 72 hours of receiving an email from Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for Public Health Operations, for a rapid COVID-19 test.
“It was a good call,” Tyler Lewis, a sophomore studying business and living in Bromley, said. “It was just a little bit inconvenient because they said, ‘You have three days to go get this done.’”
Jemma Downey, a sophomore studying education and a resident of Bromley, was frustrated in the lack of communication from the university regarding the CVS test.
“We didn't really get any information about what was going on and why we had to get tested. We just got the email from Dr. Gillian Ice,” Downey said. “We didn't really get any information after that. That was the only email we got.”
Students also expressed frustration on having to take both a CVS and Vault COVID-19 test within the same week.
“I had just gotten my Vault test for that week the day before,” Downey said. “I was kind of annoyed that I had to go and get another one.”
Lewis took the CVS and Vault test on the same day, which was inconvenient, he said.
The difference in types of tests has confused some students. Gillian Ice, special assistant to the president for Public Health Operations, sent an email to all OU students explaining the difference.
“We use Vault Health for regular testing of all students who have a campus presence, and we do wide net testing through CVS as needed to monitor potential outbreaks,” Ice said in the email.
Brander appreciated the increased speed of the CVS rapid test compared to the Vault tests.
“The Vault test kind of takes forever,” Brander said. “We had taken our Vault tests a day-and-a-half before we got the email, and we still did not have our results, versus we had our (CVS) results that were negative 20 minutes after our test was done, so that was nice.”
Students in Bromley and Pickering still have lingering fears their housing advisory level will continue to increase.
“With there being so many residents (in Bromley), I'm sure that it will keep going up just because there's nine floors of residents,” Lewis said.
While Bromley has a higher student living capacity, Pickering has lower levels of students living in the residence hall. Despite this difference, the same fears remain.
“I think that there's a good chance we could continue to increase,” Brander said. “One person having a positive (test) increases our percentage by a higher amount than if our residence hall was full, like a hall like Jeff.”