Campus News News

“It’s been certainly busy:” A look into the operations of the testing center

Jack Jeffery

Springfield College’s Health Center knew it would be taking on an increased workload when the school decided to bring students to campus for the fall semester. 

After shutting down in person school on March 19, the college has spent time and resources on developing a plan to keep everyone on campus safe

Students are required to get COVID-19 tests every other week based upon the rotation schedule they signed up for. 

To carry out the testing effectively, the Health Center has hired a select group of staff, as well as two health care professionals to work the tents set up directly outside the health center buildings. The tests are self-administered under the direction of those professionals. 

Staff across campus have had to learn new skills to keep the whole operation running smoothly. 

“Due to the response to COVID this semester, I transitioned to have an office in the Health Center to add Contact Tracing to my role,” said Christine Johnston. 

Johnston originally worked full-time in Campus Recreation as the Assistant Director for Alcohol & Other Drug Education and Health Promotion. 

Due to the pandemic, her role has expanded. 

“I oversee the student contact tracing team on campus, which consists of a lead graduate student and several undergraduate students,” said Johnston. 

Springfield College has administered 11,077 tests since they began testing on Aug. 19. As of Oct. 12, Springfield has seen five positive tests. 

On Tuesday Sept. 29, COVID made one of its bigger impacts on the campus. Alumni Hall reported three positive tests by residents. Springfield College made the decision to quarantine the hall, leaving a lot of students and faculty worried. 

Springfield College as well as the Health Center have worked tirelessly since, to contain any additional positive tests and so far they’ve been successful. 

“It’s been certainly busy and certainly stressful at times,” said Health Center director Kathleen Hogan-Soltys. “But the support here on campus from other departments and from the leadership team has been incredible so it’s definitely a community and team effort.” 

Support appears to be a theme across campus. The Health Center has tried its best to wrap its arms around the students on campus, understanding life on campus can be stressful under the pandemic’s conditions. 

“We’ve been fully supporting any student who tests positive for COVID,” said Johnston. “Students are able to go home or move to supported isolation housing. They are checked on by the Health Center providers for routine medical checks, the contact tracing team, Residence Life, and more. Getting a positive COVID test could happen to anyone, and any students who do test positive are fully supported by the campus. We want them to get better.”

Springfield College’s protocol for positive tests is that “Anyone who tests positive will need to isolate until they are fever free for 24 hours without use of fever-reducing medication, symptoms are improved and 10 days have passed since the onset of symptoms,” according to Springfield College’s website. 

If there are any positive takeaways to the quarantine at Alumni Hall, it should be that the plans in place for positive tests have worked thus far. 

“We have a very specific protocol for positive testing. It involves first of all, notifying the person who tests positive but then activating the rapid response team here on campus and then also the contact tracing team,” Hogan-Soltys said.

So far, Springfield College has done an exceptional job in containing any outbreaks with only 0.045 percent of the tests coming back positive. The College has made it clear that its goal is to reach the move out date of Nov. 20. Five weeks out and that date seems to be fast approaching.

Photo: Jack Jeffery/The Student

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