With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Boise and the surrounding areas, Boise State has put preventive measures in place and has implemented an active testing policy for the 2020 academic school year.
Greg Hahn, associate vice president for the Office of Communications and Marketing, sits on the reintegration committee. Hahn acknowledged the health and safety of students, faculty and staff is of the committee’s first and foremost importance.
“Boise State has contracted with and hired multiple public health experts, and worked closely with local, regional and national public health offices to create as safe an environment as possible,” Hahn wrote. “We have created a new Public Health Office with expert staff and leadership to lead contact tracing efforts and planning, and have a public health staff devoted just for university housing.”
Among the efforts that were essential was implementing proper COVID-19 testing procedures on campus. Making sure that students had a place to go where they could get tested for COVID-19 if they were symptomatic was of high importance.
“University Health Services (UHS) continues to have capacity to test symptomatic students and employees; additionally, the university’s Public Health Officers can assist students and employees to find alternate testing locations near them if they have symptoms and can’t get to or be accommodated by UHS,” Hahn wrote.
If students start to show symptoms, they are encouraged to contact the Public Health Office or University Health Services. The university has reserved rooms for students in on-campus housing in the event infected students need a place to self isolate, according to Hahn.
Jacob Kendra, a senior media arts major, likes that testing is accessible to students on campus, and believes the university should make the testing accessible to students without them having to leave their dorm.
“Students should have access to some form of a testing kit if they are exhibiting symptoms, since the process is a simple nasal swab students should have no problem testing themselves,” Kendra said.
One of Kendra’s main concerns is that students who contract COVID-19 might fall behind with school work.
“I think we should have an alternate option in place for students who contract COVID-19 and give them an alternative option,” Kenda said. “I hope the university is thinking about ways to help those who contract the virus.”
Boise State has suspended a policy for students that would have required them to have 80% of their coursework or time completed by the end of the semester. Now if students have COVID-19, they will receive extra time and work out a contract with their professors to finish the work.
Cassy Ponga, a sophomore biology major, likes that Boise State has testing availability on campus for those who live on or near campus.
“I think testing on campus is a good idea, in the event that a student tests positive they have the option to quarantine,” Ponga said. “Since testing on campus is available they would have easy access to testing that is close to them.”
Hahn acknowledged the importance of COVID-19 testing on campus, but that precautionary measures will need to be taken to prevent the spread of the virus on campus.
“If people comply with the facial covering, physical distancing, limitations on group sizes and other public health requirements, we expect we’ll be able to manage outbreaks,” Hahn wrote. “It’s up to all of us to keep our community safe and on campus.”