Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2021

Students report difficulty complying with COVID-19 testing requirements

By ALEXIS HOLEWINSKI | November 21, 2021

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COURTESY OF ARIJIT NUKALA

Students who leave campus for Thanksgiving Break must register their departures on Prodensity.

University policy requires weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for vaccinated affiliates and twice-weekly asymptomatic testing for unvaccinated affiliates. While positivity rates have remained low throughout this semester, some students reported challenges with maintaining compliance in interviews with The News-Letter.

In an email to The News-Letter, Vice President for Communications Andrew Green explained that because many noncompliance cases are glitches in MyChart or because students who have not updated their Prodensity statuses, the University does not release statistics on testing compliance. Nevertheless, Green asserted that the University has a rigorous process for monitoring and enforcing compliance.

“Students who are noncompliant with testing will receive warning communications for a first missed test, and any subsequent missed tests will result in conduct action which may include a conduct meeting and/or temporary suspension of their access to their respective campus,” he wrote.

In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Corina Mills acknowledged that the University has made an effort to make testing accessible and convenient by offering multiple locations and expanding hours. 

“While the closure of the AMR II testing site came as a surprise, I’ve actually found the location at the [Ralph S. O’Connor] Rec[reation] Center [for Health and Well-Being] just as easy to visit, since I go there a few times a week anyway,” she said. “It’s a lot less difficult to accommodate testing into my schedule when it’s offered at a building I’m already going to be in.”

Though Mills has been able to incorporate testing into her weekly routine, she understands why that might not be as easy for some students. 

“I don’t have a precise testing schedule, and I don’t know anyone who does either. I normally remember I need to [get tested] toward the end of the week and get it done the next time it’s convenient,” she said. “I know a few people who’ve missed weeks not because they’re trying to flout the rules but because it slipped their mind and nothing happened to randomly remind them or because they simply couldn’t find the time.”

Sophomore Rohan Herur, who missed two weeks of testing, expressed a similar sentiment. In an email to The News-Letter, he explained challenges with compliance.

“I was swamped with work, and then I left campus to celebrate a holiday with my family,” he wrote. “By the time I was free to get tested, the sites were... closed.” 

According to Herur, the University initially warned him about his noncompliance and then asked him to complete a COVID-19 safety course. Though he agreed it was an appropriate response, he found the content of the course redundant. He believes the University can make testing more widely available for students, citing that he found the self-service testing near the entrance of Charles Commons especially useful. The self-service testing station has now been moved into the testing room.

In an interview with The News-Letter, freshman Emily Tesone shared that special circumstances prevented her from getting tested regularly. 

“I went home for the weekend twice this semester because of worsening symptoms from a recent concussion,” she said. “Both times, I left unexpectedly on Friday, the day I typically get tested, and Sunday evening after the sites had already closed.” 

Like Herur, she sees ways for the University to improve its response to noncompliance. 

“The big thing for me is that I was never given room to explain myself, to explain that I was taking care of my health. I understand that the University needs to enforce the rules as published. However, I feel like the email I received was more threatening than warranted, especially given the reason for my noncompliance,“ she said. “The large majority of the Hopkins student body here, including myself, takes public health very seriously, so it frustrates me that we aren’t being given the benefit of the doubt.”

Housing Operations clarified testing policies for Thanksgiving break in an email to all undergraduate students on Nov 15. Students away from campus for the entire week of Thanksgiving, which extends from midnight on Sunday, Nov. 21 to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28, do not need to test that week. Any students who are on campus at any point during this period will need to get tested. The email also outlines changes to the hours of each of the University’s testing sites. Students leaving campus must register their departure on Prodensity.

Tesone, who is leaving campus for the whole of Thanksgiving Break, was relieved to be able to leave on Nov. 21. She told The News-Letter that she thinks it is unfair to mark students leaving on Monday as noncompliant if they were unable to get tested due to travel logistics. 

In an email to The News-Letter, sophomore Shayan Sadiq explained his plans to leave campus for Thanksgiving Break. 

“My Thanksgiving plan consists of leaving Monday and coming back either Thursday or Friday,” he wrote. “Luckily, I’m leaving Monday afternoon, so I can get tested before my trip.”

However, he believes that the University should have done a better job publicizing the requirements for testing. He was initially unsure whether compliance was over a Monday-to-Monday or Sunday-to Sunday period and wishes the University had been clearer earlier about general compliance requirements.

Students on the Homewood Campus are able to schedule tests at Charles Commons, Shriver Hall and the Recreation (Rec) Center. Asymptomatic testing is available Monday through Friday at all three locations, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 8 p.m. with the exception of Shriver Hall, which closes at 4:30 p.m. on Fridays. Charles Commons and the Rec Center offer testing on Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., respectively. The modified testing schedule from Nov. 22 through Nov. 28 can be found here

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