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Boise State requiring mandatory COVID-19 testing for residential students

Photo by Mackenzie Hudson

As of Sept. 14, Boise State has begun conducting mandatory COVID-19 testing for on-campus residents. Cases have risen in the last two weeks since testing started. 

Testing started with Chaffee Hall and is proceeding in alphabetical order for the remaining dorms. Boise State is currently using the common anterior nares (nasal) swab test. 

According to Assistant Director of Content Communications and Marketing Cienna Madrid,  the university is “ working to pivot to the PCR saliva swab test. However, Madrid also stated that the pivot is a multi-step process, so students and faculty should not expect an immediate transition. 

Before the year began, students living on campus had to sign the COVID-19 Addendum that required them to be tested if it became available. Now that testing is accessible, students must proceed to a makeshift testing facility in front of Riverfront Hall. 

First, students must schedule an appointment. Once the appointment has been made, students must use the LiveSafe mobile app to check their symptoms and receive the notification to “continue with regular campus activities,” which means the student is symptom-free and can proceed to the testing facility. 

Boise state dorms
[Photo of dorm halls on Boise State campus]
Photo by Mackenzie Hudson | The Arbiter

Currently, Boise State is sending the tests out of state, which lengthens the time in which results are returned. They claim that results should be available within 1-3 days, but several students have waited for longer such as Ben Schumock who waited 4 days before he received his results. 

Boise State has improved its testing period with changes in tests to receive faster results.  

Once results are received, students are able to resume life as normal if they test negative. 

However, if the test is positive, they must immediately proceed to the available isolation rooms. Boise State currently has a total of 115 isolation beds available in the Lincoln Townhomes, all of which are fully furnished and will come with hotel-like accommodations.

Boise State does not have the available capacity to increase the number of isolation units. According to the Boise State COVID-19 Tracking Dashboard, of the 115 available beds, 54 are already in use and increasing as the semester and testing progress. 

Once they are in their designated isolation room, they will undergo a 10-day, no contact quarantine. 

Ben Schumock, a freshman business major, is one of the students currently undergoing the quarantine process. 

As a first-year student new to the college lifestyle, Schumock is living through a once-in-a-lifetime experience. He was one of the first students to be tested, and although his results did take longer than expected to receive, he tested positive for COVID-19. 

Upon receiving the results, Schumock was emailed by Boise State Housing and Residence Life where he was told he had two hours to pack his belongings and move across campus. Schumock’s roommate tested positive and the two were assigned to the same isolation room. 

“If you test positive, you must quarantine for 10 days, but if you test negative and have been exposed, you must quarantine for 14 days,” Schumock said. 

Boise State is utilizing its tracing program, which is another reason testing is being conducted on campus. 

Schumock spoke about the accommodations housing has made for those who are stuck in isolation units. 

“They said 15 minutes outside per day. That basically means we just sit outside our door,” Schumock said.

Each morning, the isolated students are brought three meals a day, called by university personnel, and asked how they are feeling. 

“It’s just regular BRC (Boise River Cafe) food, but it does suck having to microwave it because it’s not the same,” Schumock said.

Schumock was released from quarantine on Sept. 25, in which he returned to his normal life back at Chaffee Hall. 
Boise State currently has a total of 349 cases of COVID-19, 127 of which are residential students.

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