Anna Fisher – Staff Writer
Benedictine residents and student athletes are now tested for COVID weekly on Thursday mornings in Rice after a procedural change to the “Protect Our Flock” initiative that began Oct. 26. The University partnered with Loop Medical Center for nasal swab tests.
The self-administered surveillance tests are free, covered by students’ insurance or the Illinois Department of Public Health. Since Benedictine will become a virtual campus after Thanksgiving, there will be three more weeks of testing.
“We’re probably going to double and triple the amount of tests we’re able to do,” said Nate VanRaden, Assistant Director of Athletics, “The Loop Medical opportunity was great for us, because it is going to allow us that weekly test.”
Before the update, 969 total tests had been given, with 19 positive cases and 14 recoveries, according to the Benedictine’s COVID Testing Dashboard. VanRaden claimed around 400 students were tested last week.
Marco Masini, Dean of Students, emphasized that the procedures after testing remain the same, “We test, we evaluate, and then we take action if we need to quarantine or isolate.”
“This was a bit more of a whole ordeal,” observed Andrew Rapata, a football player, first tested under the previous procedure. “The problem I have with people doing it themselves is that people don’t want to do that, so they’re not going to ‘probe their brains,’” he said, questioning the accuracy of results. However, he does see the point of the change, “obviously, they’re doing it for a reason.”
The surveillance testing is for finding asymptomatic cases, explained Police Chief Dave Anderson. “We’re not doing symptom-related testing on campus, which makes our overall surveillance testing much safer.” Students with symptoms are directed toward the closest testing site, Anderson added.
“This is like a moving jigsaw puzzle; so many pieces in motion,” said Nurse Pam Deely in an email, sharing the administrative challenges of tracking, updating, and summarizing data along with serving students.
As COVID positivity numbers rise in DuPage and elsewhere, Nurse Deely encourages caution, “Please, keep practicing social distancing in all that you do. Wear a mask! Wash your hands.”
In turn, Masini reaffirmed the COVID Response Team’s goals, “We will do our best with keeping students safe and providing all the accommodations they need,” he said. For commuters, residents, athletics, or programming, “The philosophy is ‘keep the doors open.’