Evy Brunelle ~ News Editor
The University of Lynchburg has ramped up COVID testing of students, faculty and staff for the spring 2021 semester.
However, a rumor has been circulating that there is a difference in COVID testing fees between commuter and residential students, but this rumor is false. According to Dean of Students, Dr. Aaron Smith, “There is not a difference in the testing fees for residential students and commuter students. The type of test would determine if there is a cost that goes to any student, but there is not a difference in cost for different students.”
Prior to returning to campus for the spring semester, residential students were required to present proof of a negative COVID test. Commuter students, on the other hand, were not required to get tested.
Smith explained, “The Covid Task Force chose to focus testing on residential students because the primary transmission of the virus was happening in residential facilities. The group did not have evidence of transmission in other areas of campus.”
Lisa Geier, the director of the Health Center, added, “This is true. I think there might be a misunderstanding here because residential students are required to participate in randomized mandatory surveillance testing and were not charged for these tests. However both residential and non-residential students have access to free rapid COVID antigen tests through the health center. PCR (long) tests are charged to the students insurance regardless of residential status.”
Smith also answered if the Commuter Student Association executive board helped make these decisions with the Covid Task Force by saying, “The new guidelines on testing were shared with all students at the same time, however, I frequently share this type of information with the Student Government Association, prior to announcements. The Commuter Student Association holds a position on the Student Government Senate. These Senate meetings are open to all students, and during these meetings I frequently receive student feedback which is great. The information about testing was shared during two Student Government Association Senate Meetings prior to students returning which were Dec. 16 and Jan. 6.”
Junior Rachel Garnett who is on the Commuter Student Association executive board said, “I think the basis for not needing commuter students to be tested was because the majority of the cases we have had on campus have been linked to the residential dorms. As a commuter, I really do not do much outside of school other than going home and have tried to remain as safe as possible. I would think that most people would not mind being tested, just in case, to ensure the safety of others.”
Geier said, “Any student who wants a test can go online through the student health portal and make an appointment for COVID testing. Please help spread the word that the rapid test is free to all students.”
Caitlyn Roderick, a senior student who has recently utilized the testing center on campus said, “It was very easy for me to make an appointment and get tested. I made an appointment late the night before, got tested the next day, and got my results back in one hour. I would highly recommend taking advantage of this in order to keep our campus COVID-free, because if you do leave campus, it is better to be safe and get tested just in case.”
Students can make appointment using the health portal at http://lynchburg.studenthealthportal.com/