Start of spring semester COVID-19 testing runs smoothly

Student six feel apart in the KSU Ice arena that doubles as a COVID-19 testing site.

Alexandra Golden and Ethan Cohen Reporters

Kent State University has started mandatory weekly testing for all on-campus students for the spring semester. The testing, run by CVS, is available every Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the KSU Ice Arena.

Joan Seidel, Kent city health commissioner, works as part of KSU’s Pandemic Planning Committee to keep students and community members safe.

Seidel said that when students came back to Kent, the average age of citizens went from being over 55 to as young as 21 and that “we knew that the majority of students were in that younger age group that were impacting those numbers, so there was concern about ‘How do we reach out to them and help them understand that … they might do well with COVID, not have a lot of symptoms or complications but the pressure in the community then for more transmission to occur to more vulnerable populations is very real.’”

According to KSU’s Coronavirus Dashboard, there were 7,617 tests administered from Jan. 1 to Jan. 24. Of those tests, 165 were positive, showing a 2.2% positivity rate. Last semester, the positivity rate was 14%. 

“I expected them to go up quite a bit. … I know a lot of people would say, ‘Well if you’re doing more testing, you’re gonna have more positives’ but … the positivity rate did not soar like it did for the fall semester,” Seidel said.

Registration for weekly testing is available two days in advance. So, if you want to go Monday, the registration opens at midnight on Saturday, said Elise Smith, a sophomore visual communication design major. 

The slots fill up fast and are in 15-minute intervals. Students have had problems with finding a time. “Sometimes time slots will be there and it will say it’s available and then when you click on it, it says this time is not available,” said Hayley Lane, a freshman human resource management major. 

There is one entrance to the Ice Arena. Once you are inside, there is a check-in station where you give your name, birthday and FlashID. After, stating any symptoms, you walk over to a testing station. If you’ve already been tested at the weekly testing, you can self administer it instead of having someone do it to you, Lane said. 

The results for the tests are supposed to take 15 minutes to process, but this is not the case for everyone. “I’ve waited probably 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how busy it is,” said Sydney Skwera, a freshman exploratory major.

There are two exits: one for people who test negative and one for people who test positive. “If you are negative, you go to the right and if you are positive, you go to the left,” Smith said. “Everyone who is there can watch who is positive.” 

The problem students are having is not how often the testing is, but how accurate it is. Students are concerned about the accuracy of the tests. Lane, Smith and Skwera all knew someone who received a false positive from the rapid test given. When this happens, the person who tested positive gets another more accurate COVID-19 test is taken and those results come back in two to three days, Smith said.

Smith witnessed firsthand what it is like to get a false positive. Her roommate tested positive with the rapid test, causing them to both have to quarantine for seven days as a precaution. 

Quarantine for on-campus students is provided by KSU. Eric Mansfield, executive director of university media relations and part of the testing and contact tracing committee, helps to manage quarantining for on-campus students. 

“We identified available spaces that could meet the needed demand throughout the semester, although in certain circumstances students have stayed in their residence hall rooms,” Mansfield said. “Some students have chosen to inform the health department that they would prefer to leave campus and quarantine or isolate at home.” 

Mansfield also referenced KSU’s Coronavirus Dashboard, which states that as of Jan. 24 there were 19 on-campus isolation and quarantine rooms in use and 324 rooms still available.

Places to get tested off-campus: CVS at 500 S. Water St., UH Kent Health Center Urgent Care for symptomatic patients, Midway Drive-in Theatre for drive-through testing, as well as LabCorp at-home testing, which you must be screened for.

Alexandra Golden and Ethan Cohen are COVID-19 reporters. Contact them at [email protected] and [email protected]