New COVID-19 testing site for unvaccinated students at SEC

The Student Experience Center on OSU’s Corvallis, Ore. campus serves as the newest COVID-19 testing site starting Sept. 22. The university says the SEC was selected as a testing site because it has a newer ventilation system and promotes easier access for students.

Tarsa Weikert, News Contributor

Unvaccinated students and staff who are required to follow Oregon State University COVID-19 safety guidelines can now be tested at the Student Experience Center or the LaSells Stewart Center.

With students back on campus, OSU has implemented multiple guidelines in an attempt to monitor and prevent COVID-19 outbreaks at the university.

“OSU has actively taken many steps to improve community and student wellness,” Stephen Jenkins, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and executive director of the University Housing and Dining Services, said. “These include working to achieve high vaccination rates in our community, having testing available, providing isolation and quarantine, and requiring that face coverings be used indoors and outdoors where distancing cannot be maintained when necessary.”

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Students and staff who are not vaccinated are required to get tested at one of the testing facilities on campus. The new testing facility located in the SEC Lobby on SW Jefferson Way opened on Sept. 22. The other testing facility is at The LaSells Stewart Center. Both facilities are open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“As of Sept. 20, 95% of students were in compliance with the OSU vaccination program, and of those in compliance, 93% of students have been fully vaccinated,” Jenny Haubenreiser, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and executive director of Student Health Services, said.

Haubenreiser also wants students to know that COVID-19 testing on campus isn’t new, referring to OSU’s Team-based Rapid Assessment of Community-level Coronavirus Epidemics.

“OSU has provided testing at many campus locations for the past year as part of TRACE OSU,” Haubenreiser said. “By providing spaces on campus for testing for all community members, including those who are vaccinated and unvaccinated, OSU continues to contribute to community wellness.” 

Haubenreiser acknowledged that some individuals are concerned about the COVID-19 testing facility being in the SEC.

“The SEC is for students, and we are helping to provide easy and convenient access for students who are busy managing classes, jobs and other obligations,” Haubenreiser said. 

The university has maintained the the SEC was selected as a testing site because it had a newer ventilation system and promoted easier access for students.

“We acknowledge that for some students, news about the SEC being used as a testing site may cause concern,” Kevin Dougherty, associate vice provost for Student Affairs and dean of students, said. “We applaud those students who comply with university policy or are proactively seeking to use testing to protect peers and loved ones.” 

The testing at the SEC is being done inside an enclosed room. It is possible that some students may be near the outside of the testing center in the SEC for more than 15 minutes, which Haubenreiser does not encourage. 

“The guideline of 15 minutes exposure within 6 feet is a commonly used metric for contact tracing to identify those who may have been exposed and in need of quarantine,” Haubenreiser said. 

To ensure maximum safety, wearing face coverings and social distancing in all public spaces is recommended, including testing sites.

The SEC testing facility also recommends anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to not get tested at any OSU testing sites. If students or faculty members show any symptoms of COVID-19, they are turned away. 

OSU health officials continue to recommend that students and faculty follow university COVID-19 policies to protect themselves and others around them.

“Regardless of daily life activities, such as shopping, attending a movie, dining out or getting tested, there is no reasonable way to ensure that a vaccinated person never comes into contact with an unvaccinated individual,” Jenkins said. “Being vaccinated, wearing face coverings and adhering to other public health measures is very effective in combating infection.”