Students adjust to campus testing protocols

September 29, 2020

Illustration by Deborah Han

Georgetown has received over 15,000 COVID-19 test results for students and employees since Aug. 24, yielding 46 total positive tests, as of Sept. 26.

In the last week, Georgetown administered 4,400 tests, 14 of which were positive for COVID-19. This past week’s positive test rate was 0. ( 32 percent, down from 0.44 percent the week before. This week, nine new cases in the community were identified, primarily from those working on campus or approved to live in the neighborhood. Only one additional case was identified on campus, a sharp decline from the 14 new cases over the previous two weeks. 

The testing that allows these weekly results has become a routine part of the Georgetown experience for students on or near campus. Members of the university community have been following enhanced testing protocols since Sept. 1,  on top of the original testing protocols put in place when students arrived back to campus. 

Testing began before students returned to campus. Before students could access campus buildings besides their residence, they had to have three negative intake tests and remain in quarantine for 14 days if traveling from a high-risk state. Now that the semester has begun, community members living on campus or who visit campus twice a week or more must be tested twice weekly. Those who live off-campus in the Georgetown, Burleith, and Foxhall neighborhoods or go to campus once a week are required to be tested once weekly. All tests are free.

Appointments are made through the One Medical app and tests are administered at McDonough Gym. Students living off-campus in the surrounding neighborhoods are able to order and receive a weekly at-home test kit which can be returned through FedEx. 

There are a few exceptions to the testing rules, including visitors to campus who do not have regular business there, and who live outside the adjacent neighborhoods. Mia Balabanis (COL ’22) who is living on campus, believes this is one area that could be improved.

“I know of some students who aren’t living in the Georgetown neighborhood (meaning they don’t have access to the Georgetown covid tests), but they still come on campus. It would be great if Georgetown offered covid tests for all GU students, even for a small fee,” she wrote in an email to the Voice

For those who do test positive, the Georgetown testing protocol offers clear guidelines. 

“If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result from a test administered through One Medical and you have signed the One Medical consent form, Georgetown’s COVID-19 public health team will contact you to provide recommendations for quarantine and isolation and coordinate support services with the Student Health Center, Student Affairs, One Medical and other University resources,” it reads.

According to a university spokesperson, Georgetown has yet to reach its goal of 100 percent of students on and off-campus being tested. 

“For on-campus students, we are reaching out actively to assure that students are all getting tested twice each week,” the spokesperson wrote in a statement to the Voice. “The university has sanctions in place for lack of compliance to testing.”

However, some students have reported that, despite adhering to the testing rules, they have been flagged as below the requirement. This has led to restricted access into university buildings such as O’Donovan’s Dining Hall, students have also reported.

Despite the occasional complication, Balabanis is happy the university has taken testing seriously. 

“The testing policy is made to be both efficient and practical, which makes it pretty easy for students to follow the guidelines,” Balabanis wrote. “I think the current testing policy is great.”

Roman Peregrino
Once upon a time, Roman was the Voice's EIC as well as news, managing, and sports editor. He is from San Francisco and a lot less Italian than his name suggests.

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