By Brooke Eastman ’25, Staff Writer
In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, St. John Fisher College offered on-campus testing for students. However, this fall on-campus testing is no longer available for individual students who were exposed.
Students say the absence of COVID tests on campus has put them in difficult situations. “I decided I would call Health and Wellness to be seen and get a test, I had no idea they were not doing testing or able to see people. So they referred me to some places off-campus to go and get a test, then I was quarantined until I had a negative result,” said Alyson Witt, a junior at Fisher.
“I appreciated them helping me get in contact with somewhere I could get [a test] done, and everyone was extremely nice, it’s just very inconvenient that the school is not doing testing. I had no idea they weren’t, and I know I’m not the only one.”
The school did not announce that they would no longer be providing COVID tests to students or why.
“Currently there is no testing available on campus for symptomatic students,” Rebecca Kieffer, Director of the Health and Wellness Center said, “We have been referring students off-campus to a number of community resources including urgent care centers and test sites that are being run through the county. For the most up-to-date information on testing, please access the Monroe County website.”
This is different from when the school mandates testing from an entire group of students due to the findings of the wastewater testing, like what happened this month when all residents of Dorsey, Ward, and Haffey were tested. When the Cardinal Courier asked about the difference between individual COVID-19 testing off-campus and the group testing performed by the school, the Wellness Center released the following clarification:
“The testing that was completed today was held in response to an increase in levels that are monitored weekly through wastewater that is collected and analyzed.
In response to a concern in the levels, obtained-asymptotic testing is held for students in those residence halls. Asymptotic means that a person does not have any symptoms of illness/COVID.
Students are screened and if they report symptoms- they are sent off-campus to test. If a student is deemed a close contact of a positive case, they will be contacted and given instructions about where they can seek a test.”
“I am lucky enough to have a car, so that’s how I got there. They sent me a list of different places, most of them being urgent care centers. They were anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes away,” Witt said of her experience.“It is really hard for nursing students, in particular, I missed an entire week of class and no teachers allow you to zoom into classes … it reflected in my grades really poorly.”
For some on-campus students, getting transportation to urgent care centers or other off-campus sites may be difficult, which is why some students think having tests available on campus would be in their best interest.
“I just think about freshmen who may not have cars and have no way to get somewhere … and they may even have to pay fees for Ubers and stuff to get places, and then they risk increased exposure,” Witt said.
First-year student Ryan Trombly agreed. “The first time I had to wait a couple of days for my COVID test from the hospital and I went into quarantine because they were waiting for my results,” Trombly said.
“I think it would’ve been a lot easier to just have COVID tests here that way you can find out your results the same day. I did have to miss a couple of days of classes because I couldn’t go back until I got my results.”
“The easier it is to get a COVID test and the results the same day on campus then the more likely people will get tested keeping us all safe.”
Many students are unaware of what to do when they suspect they have been exposed. “If you become aware that you have been exposed to a person who has COVID-19, it is important not to panic,” said Rebecca Kieffer, Director of the Health and Wellness Center.
“Individuals who test positive will participate in contact tracing once they are diagnosed. If you are considered a person who has had close contact with a positive [person], you will be notified about the proper steps to take. If you have questions about being in close contact with a person diagnosed with COVID-19, please reach out to the Health and Wellness Center.”
The Wellness Center added that if you test positive with an at-home test, take a picture of the test with the date on the test and your Fisher ID in the frame. Negative at-home test results are not accepted by the county or college.
The Health and Wellness Center added, “If your result is positive, please upload your test results to the Patient Portal and notify the Health and Wellness Center during business hours. The safety and security officers can also take this information after hours. If you have been asked to test post-exposure to an individual with a positive test result, you will be instructed to upload those results to the patient portal as well.”
Even if you are vaccinated, COVID-19 is still a persistent threat. If you are feeling ill or feel symptoms such as cough, congestion or runny nose, fatigue, headache, loss of taste or smell, fever or chills, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, or any other unusual or new symptoms, consider seeking medical treatment or receiving a COVID-19 test.
“It is important that we all do our part to continue to avoid the spread of COVID-19 on our campus,” Kieffer said.
“Our region has experienced a spike in cases and it is important to be vigilant despite your vaccination status. Masking properly in public settings, monitoring your health, and following guidance related to COVID-19 booster vaccines are all steps that each of us can take to stop the spread.”