The university is not ‘campus ready’ until all students have the opportunity for testing
With our relatively late start in September, UC Davis should have been more than ready to welcome students back to campus. While other schools on the quarter system started earlier so students could go home for Thanksgiving and not come back, we stuck to our previously decided schedule with the hope that our later start would give us time to learn from other campuses back in session.
Not only has UC Davis risked students spreading the virus to their families when they go back home for Thanksgiving break and to the Davis community when they come back, but also the upside of starting later has been undermined by the fact that UC Davis does not appear to be as ready as claimed. The lack of testing for students living off campus—the majority of UCD students—ensures that students carry the burden of finding a way to COVID-19 testing in addition to managing their courses and any symptoms they may have.
UC Davis is currently only offering testing to students who are asymptomatic living in Student Housing residences, The Green at West Village, firefighters and EMTs living on campus and those living in sorority or fraternity houses. Students who do not fit this description must find testing at facilities in the community, some of which require physician referrals. The students outside of the subset who have access to testing may be accessing campus facilities, have classes on campus or work on campus. Although UC Davis and Yolo County have many measures in place to prevent students from becoming infected, the possibility of infection clearly remains. Without easy access to testing for all students, students who are unknowingly infected or who are unsure when experiencing some of the long list of symptoms for COVID-19 now put their instructors, housemates and other workers at risk.
The university has had enough time to plan for students to get tested and alleviate some of the anxiety students already face about potentially being infected with the virus, and the lack of testing available to most students is unacceptable. Furthermore, it is irresponsible. UC Davis has a responsibility to its students and the larger Davis community its students regularly interact with to provide easy access to COVID-19 testing for all Davis residents.
Students rely on their campuses to keep them safe. The best way to do so is to offer testing that students can easily access when concerned with a potential infection. Failing to offer easy access to testing for students acts as a deterrent to students who may not have the means to go to an off-campus testing site or may be overwhelmed with the massive amounts of information in regards to COVID-19 that they receive.
This increases the risk that students who are infected will continue interacting with facilities on and off campus and will spread the virus to other students, staff and workers at UC Davis and members of the community. The health and safety of UC Davis affiliates and the larger Davis community is reliant upon the administration’s ability to provide all students with easy access to COVID-19 testing.
Written by: The Editorial Board