Rowan uses Hollybush Pavilion as its COVID-19 testing headquarters. - Multimedia Editor / Alexander Rossen

Rowan University’s Wellness Center is offering COVID-19 asymptomatic testing to all students and staff during the week before Thanksgiving so that people can hopefully get some peace of mind as they head home to celebrate.

“For those people that remain isolated, not creating new contacts and have a negative test, that’s a pretty good assurance that you’re not gonna be bringing [COVID-19] to Thanksgiving,” said Scott Woodside, the director for Student Health Services and the Wellness Center.

Asymptomatic testing (getting tested for the virus while showing no symptoms) is not a widespread option for people throughout the state and country right now. As a higher education organization, Rowan administration decided to make asymptomatic testing and surveillance a priority for its students.

“We have a co-habitated community…we are different, and we recognize that and we have the capability of doing testing, so we just wanted to make that opportunity available,” Woodside said.

The Wellness Center is strongly encouraging students to make an appointment in advance if they want to get tested. However, students will not be turned away if they walk up to the testing center without an appointment.

“It’s definitely appointment-required, and the reason is the lab that we’re working with wants a 72-hour notice so they can create the lab requisition, so that it can be a smooth transition,” Woodside said. “We’re not turning students away, though, so if a student does walk up, we do have paperwork for them to fill out on the spot. But, we are strongly encouraging students to register ahead of time.”

Asymptomatic testing will be available on campus throughout the fall semester, but testing is not the only important part of Rowan’s COVID-19 prevention and pandemic response strategy.

“Similar to what we’ve been doing all semester, we’ve been offering weekly asymptomatic surveillance [that] students can register and participate in. We just wanted to make it more widespread leading into the two weeks before Thanksgiving,” Woodside said. “[Testing] is certainly not the end-all-be-all in [COVID-19] prevention, but it’s one piece.”

Since testing and surveillance are essential for the campus community’s safety, Rowan is also making these asymptomatic tests free to all students. 

“There’s no cost to the students for it, so we’re not billing insurance for this program because it’s strictly asymptomatic surveillance,” Woodside said.

He also noted that if a student does recognize symptoms of COVID-19, they should remain as isolated as possible and contact the Wellness Center immediately.

“Pay attention to your own body. If you’re feeling symptomatic, please don’t be around other people. Give us a call, and we can schedule testing for you,” he said.

While university life usually encourages socialization and involvement, it is important in light of COVID-19 to follow CDC guidelines and isolate as much as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is not the time to expand your close circles, so keep your circles small, don’t create new contacts; that really is the best measure to make sure you’re happy and healthy heading into Thanksgiving,” Woodside said.

The Wellness Center is ending their pre-Thanksgiving testing opportunities on Friday, Nov. 20, ensuring that whoever wants to get tested will be able to get their results back before Thanksgiving.

“The turnaround time is two to three days, so if we tested on Monday, you may not get the results back for Thanksgiving. So that’s why we’re stopping on the 20th, which is the last scheduled clinic,” Woodside said.

He encourages Rowan students to stay safe and commended those who have been following student health guidelines all semester.

“It’s been a challenging semester [for students] in terms of managing all changes that we’ve put in place, and by and large, they’ve done an amazing job. I’m very, very proud of our Rowan students and how they’ve handled this [difficult] semester,” he said.

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