Day one of weekly COVID-19 testing moves smoothly at UNCW

Weekly testing of students on-campus begins at UNCW

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The new COVID-19 testing program is now in place at UNCW.

Students living or attending classes on campus must get tested and many students are relieved that the mandated testing is happening. They hope it helps this semester go better than the last one did.

“It’s a good idea to just catch things early, especially if we don’t know,” said Landon Alford, a freshman. “There’s a lot of people partying still. I think there’s less parties than last semester, though, so that’s a good thing, I guess.”

During a pandemic, nothing is written in stone.

“They told us we had to get tested, like, three days before we came back [this semester] and that there would be random surveillance testing, but it just changed so now we get tested once per week,” said freshman student Meaghan Maloney.

The new policy at UNCW is to test students that live on campus once a week for COVID-19. For off campus students, it’s every other week. It’s a 180° change from last semester when students were not required to be tested at all.

“Anything to keep us in school, really,” said Alford. “Last semester, we all got COVID pretty early, so a lot of people went to Galloway, which is a really good idea to have everyone quarantined to one place.”

“We were both [in Galloway] last semester,” said Jena Myers, another freshman. “The hope is not to go back.”

Administrators also put processes in place so students did not have to stand in the long lines they saw at the start of the semester. Each student must make an appointment ahead of time.

“Students swipe their ID card and a label prints out,” explained Katrin Wesner-Harts, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. “They bring it to one of the testing stations and the students trade their sticker for a swab. They self-swab, so it’s five times in each nostril, and then they put it in the testing kit, we put the sticker on their swab and tell them that we’ll see them next week.”

Not everyone is excited to swab their nose every week, but many students are more than happy to be a part of the effort to keep the pandemic under control on campus.

“It’s not a fun feeling if they’re going up the nose, but I’m not too nervous about it,” said Myers.

“The only problem [students] would have is that they’d have to quarantine if they do have it, but I mean, that’s just helping us stay on campus,” said Alford.”

The only concern the freshmen had was the possibility of a false positive. Wesner-Harts says the university already has protocols in place to minimize that possibility.

“If a student tests positive, like I said, a provider would reach out to them and talk to them about their history, could they identify someone they’ve been in close contact with, are they having any symptoms,” said Wesner-Harts. “If we have to, we could do a confirmatory PCR test, but it’s going to depend on their own history.”

Unlike students, professors and other staff members are not required to get tested but it is strongly recommended. They’ll be able to start making appointments just like students in the coming days.

The university has said it expects to test about 6,500 people each week. The results will appear on its dashboard updated every morning.

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