EMU will continue to provide free COVID-19 testing through summer semesters A and B.
The announcement was released via campus update email from the Office of the President on April 29. President James Smith encouraged students, faculty, and staff to take advantage of the opportunity.
Smith encouraged the campus community to test regularly for COVID-19, rather than testing only when required to. For students who are continuing to live on campus through the summer, they will be required to test at least twice per month.
Testing for the summer semester began on May 5 and is located in the EMU Student Center.
The test to be provided will be the current Abbott BinaxNow test. The Abbott BinaxNow test is a non-invasive, self-administered shallow nostril swab test. This is in comparison to the previous saliva-based COVID-19 Vault Health tests that EMU was providing in the fall 2020 semester and in the beginning of the winter 2021 semester.
The previous Vault Health tests released results to students, faculty, and staff via email a couple of days after taking the test. The current Abbott BinaxNow test releases the results mere hours later.
Also, included in the university’s campus update email, Smith recommended the campus community continue to receive regular testing even if fully vaccinated. Smith relayed that even those fully vaccinated can still be carriers of the disease and unknowingly spread the virus to others.
“While being vaccinated limits the symptoms of COVID-19 should you contract it, vaccinated individuals may still be carriers of COVID-19 and inadvertently spread it to friends and family," Smith said in the campus update.
Smith relayed that the vaccine does not cause positive test results as the vaccine does not carry the live COVID-19 virus.
Cathy Steiner, an event coordinator at EMU, is one of the staff members who have been overseeing the testing center. Steiner began to oversee the testing on campus in mid-January. Her experience has been great, and she hopes that by the university continuing to provide testing on campus through the summer semesters that students, faculty, and staff may be able to feel a sense of trust and safety while being on campus.
By providing tests in the summer, Steiner thinks there will be a greater sense of security for students, staff, and faculty through all the changes COVID brings.
"If they're ever in doubt, they can come and get a test and feel safe,“ Steiner said. "I think having that nice constant of 'we have testing available'... is something that is one of the big selling points for EMU through COVID."
Regarding concerns about the future of testing on campus after the summer semester, Steiner says that nothing has been determined yet.
For Kathleen Inman, a current sophomore at EMU, having to take weekly COVID-19 tests during her first year while living on campus was a great experience. Inman thought that being able to regularly test for COVID-19 on campus made her feel more comfortable and safer, and she highly supports EMU continuing to provide testing through the summer semester as well.
“I thought it was a great idea,” Inman said. “As long as it’s provided by the school, it gives a lot of people a chance who may need to be vaccinated or still have to make sure and a lot of people who haven’t gotten vaccinated to make sure that they are still staying safe and that they can have tests available to them.”
Inman hopes that not only will EMU continue to provide free testing on campus, but that the university will continue to do so in upcoming semesters. Inman also expressed that in conjecture to that, she hopes fellow students will continue to wear masks and get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as they are able to.
Anna Bowling, a current junior at EMU, had to frequently test on campus as she was a part of EMU's forensics team. Although Bowling expressed that signing up for testing was sometimes difficult because testing hours interfered with her courses, she still nonetheless thought that taking a COVID-19 test on campus was easy and effective.
Bowling hopes that others will continue to get tested and that even though testing may seem like a hassle to some, it benefits everyone.
“Obviously this pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon,” Bowling said. “While a lot of us have either started the vaccination process or fully completed it, there’s still a significant risk to students who are living on campus and intermixing with family and friends, different friends, social groups, and classes. Having that testing option really allows us to get some of the college experience without letting COVID completely hinder us.”
To learn more about testing hours, updates, and other questions concerning the COVID-19 tests provided on campus, visit the EMU COVID-19 testing page.