Zoe Stratos | Staff Writer
As the number of Duquesne’s COVID-19 positive cases rise, the university is taking steps to prevent that number from getting any higher, including testing for all students living on campus.
In an email sent by the university on Friday, Oct. 2, Duquesne administration commended students for their commitment to following preventative guidelines such as wearing masks and social distancing, but then mentioned that there had been a slight spike in cases since the last round of random testing.
Before the required testing for all students living on campus started on Thursday, Oct. 8, Duquesne University Health Services and Mary Ellen Smith Glasgow, dean of the school of nursing, gathered volunteers from the school of nursing and pharmacy school to help them test the thousands of students. An email was sent out to all nursing students to sign up, one of which was junior Kayla Barr.
Barr became involved with the COVID-19 testing after one of her clinicals was put online for the semester. In place of her usual clinical, volunteering for COVID-19 testing allowed her to log some clinical hours.
In preparation for testing, Barr and other nursing students were sent a PDF with instructions and diagrams as to how they are to conduct a COVID-19 test. Along with this, on their assigned testing day, they were able to watch a demonstration before diving right into testing themselves and received a test of their own.
“We got there first, got all of our PPE: gown, N95 mask, hairnet, shoe covers — the whole shebang,” Barr said. “We went over to the tent, and they gave us a demonstration along with all of the supplies. The patient would give us a Ziplock bag that they picked up at a different tent. All I had to do was test.”
But with numbers rising around campus, Barr was uneasy during her testing time last Wednesday.
“I was scared at first, but it’s always scary to interact with a lot of patients in a short period of time,” Barr said. “I’m happy I got the opportunity to do this, though, and get that exposure.”
On the other side of the swab is sophomore Noelle Micklow, as she was recently sent home after being contact-traced by a COVID-19 positive student on campus during the required campus-wide testing.
“I was first tested on Thursday and it came back negative,” Micklow said. “On Friday morning, I went to breakfast with my friend and a few others, and an hour later she texted me saying she tested positive. After that I got retested Friday and was negative again. I didn’t go outside; I stayed in my dorm and wore an N95 to go to the bathroom until they called me and told me I had to go home or stay at the hotel until Halloween.”
Despite these rising cases across campus and across the country, Micklow feels Duquesne has done its part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 as best as it can.
“I think they’re doing a really good job with COVID policy and enforcing it,” Micklow said. “I kind of feel bad for them; students are really rude to them. They just want to go out and party and don’t care about the bigger issue at hand. The healthcare workers don’t deserve it, they’re just trying to help.”
With a university employing the best strategies known as of now without restricting student rights, it all comes down to the students’ decisions to follow policies put in place.
“I think rising cases are expected, but I think that people need to take it more seriously,” Micklow said. “It’s come down to personal responsibility; the university has done as much as they can. Just stop going out and leaving campus.”
In an email sent to students Wednesday, Oct. 21, Duquesne president Ken Gormley said he was “very proud to recognize that the vast majority of you (students) have met the challenge and are following the guidelines established by the university for social distancing and wearing face masks faithfully.”
He wrote that the university received the test results from the past week, and that the rate of new cases was less than 1%. Gormley then invited all students for ice cream Friday, Oct. 23 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on A-Walk “to show [his] appreciation for [our] efforts in helping keep our Duquesne community safe.”
“Thanks for your extraordinary efforts in showing the strength and collaborative spirit of the Duquesne University family, for the entire world to see!”