Random COVID-19 Testing on Campus

On Monday, September 20, Dickinson College’s Division of Student Life announced that the school will be conducting random surveillance testing of the student population from September 21-23. 

This announcement follows the events of Homecoming and Family Weekend, in addition to the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 and 2015, which occurred from September 18-19. Almost 400 students were selected and required to be tested, which accounts for about 20% of the student population. Associate Vice President of Human Resource Services Debra Hargrove said that the CDC recommends that colleges test about 10-20% of their student population. Dickinson chose to test 20% of students as a precaution. 

“The health and safety of the community always comes first,” Hargrove said. Typically, they test about 60 people each day, consisting of students, staff, and any faculty that wish to be tested for COVID-19. The number of positive cases (including those in quarantine) currently and cumulatively can be found on the main Dickinson website. As of September 25, 2021 the cumulative number of student COVID-19 cases on campus since the fall semester began on August 30, 2021 is only 5 cases. 

According to the New York Times, Rochelle Walensky, Director of the CDC, recently overturned a decision that the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices made regarding who in the United States was advised to take a booster shot to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. She recommended that adults in high-risk jobs, such as health care workers and teachers, receive a booster shot. At the moment, the United States is administering an average of 683,000 doses of vaccines each day. In an announcement to the general public, President Biden stated that he hopes to make booster shots available to more Americans as the year progresses. 

Nationally, the proportion of people who are fully vaccinated is about 75% for ages 12 and up. In Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, only about 60% of people 12 and up are vaccinated and there is an average of 106 positive COVID-19 cases each day. According to the CDC’s report of The  Delta Variant: What We Know About the Science, the variant is about 2x more contagious than previous variants. For students, it is especially important to be wearing masks when indoors and to get tested if they feel sick, regardless of vaccination status. 

In an interview with The Dickinsonian, Hargrove said, “everything regarding COVID health and safety is discussed every day,” and that students should expect random surveillance testing to occur after major breaks and after campus events that bring a number of outside people onto campus. Asymptomatic students who wish to be tested at any point during the semester can go to the COVID testing site in Allison Hall. If a student presents symptoms, they should contact the Wellness Center for more individualized instructions.