University President John Garvey was at the door of the Caldwell Auditorium on Wednesday morning, wearing an N95 mask and ready to greet the students who were arriving to be tested for COVID.
Bonnie McGowan, COVID Testing Center administrative assistant for the Millennium South testing site, had just finished training the new volunteer and was helping students. A few feet away, Harry R. Knabe, special assistant to the associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, who is coordinating the University’s COVID-19 logistics and response protocols, was troubleshooting a question from a student worker.
Taking a break from his work, Knabe spoke about how important testing is for a full return to campus: “We all want to be fully in person and experience everything Catholic has to offer,” he said. “The best way to do that is for students to actively participate in testing.”
He added that testing protects not only students, but faculty and staff; including frontline workers who make campus life possible, like cleaning staff and dining workers.
As the spring semester begins, students are to be tested within five days of their return to campus under protocols developed to keep the University safe and open. The Caldwell testing location is temporary and was set up to accommodate a large number of tests. On Wednesday, 250 appointments had been scheduled, with each taking just a few minutes.
Surveillance testing for residential students, off-campus students, graduate students, and law students will take place throughout the semester. Knabe noted that certain groups — including athletes and students involved in productions at the Rome School — are tested regularly because of the nature of those activities.
With the COVID virus changing and the recent Omicron surge, “we are adapting as needed,” Knabe said, adding, “I think the choices made have served Catholic well. Identifying where there are positive cases is the best approach to staying in person.”
Any student with COVID symptoms should go to the testing center at Millennial South. COVID response information is available on the University website.