Fairfield University will require that all students submit proof of a negative test taken 72 hours before their return to campus for the spring semester on Jan. 17. 

This information, announced in an email sent by Vice President for Student Life Karen Donoghue eleven days before the start of the semester, also noted that students who are able to submit proof of a positive COVID-19 test within 90-days of the Jan. 17 return will be exempt from testing. 

The email stated that all students must upload proof of a negative test “regardless of their vaccination status” and added to “please plan accordingly to obtain this test.” 

Due to the recent uptick in cases as Omicron spread throughout the country, there has been a shortage of tests available. 

Junior Carly Manzi is exempt from the testing requirement as she tested positive for COVID at the end of December, but said she is “relieved to not have to worry about where to find a test.”

“It’s great they’re requiring testing, but it’s difficult for students to get tests right now,” Manzi said. “They should send everyone a kit like they did last year.” 

On the other hand, Alyssa O’Keefe ‘23 focused on the benefits of testing before returning to campus will have on the semester. 

“Testing to go back to school is a good idea,” O’Keefe said. “It will help keep the cases low when everyone returns to campus so they can hopefully remain low throughout the rest of the semester.” 

Senior Ruby Francis echoed O’Keefe’s sentiments. 

“I think that the 72-hour testing requirement is important to catch any cases heading into the semester especially given the rise in cases,” Francis said. 

Francis added that she will have easy access to testing, as her mom works at a doctor’s office. But says “I’m sure it will be difficult for others to find a test.”  

“The University is requiring students to get tested assuming that they’ll be able to,” Francis continued. “There might not be enough time to acquire a test and they might not have the means to.” 

Francis also stated concerns with the testing protocol as it “still leaves a window for someone to get sick” and feels that “the University should’ve provided more options to access testing rather than leaving it up to the students themselves.”

 The University’s announcement comes at a time where COVID-19 tests are in new demand with the Omicron variant surge across the country. In Connecticut, many municipalities started dispersing free at-home COVID testing kits to residents. This comes just as the amount of Connecticut residents hospitalized for COVID reached a height not seen since May of 2020. With a shortage of these kits, town leaders have had to restrict tests to be given just to essential workers like teachers and health care workers. 

In an email to Fairfield County residents on Dec. 28, First Selectwomen Brenda Kupchick stated that the county was given 7,710 kits, with two tests in each kit, for its 61,000 residents. This forced the county to distribute to those who may have been exposed or symptomatic. On Jan. 1, in a new email to Fairfield County residents, it was announced that this number had changed and they were only distributing 9,216 tests, and not the 15,420 total tests originally promised. 

The majority of Fairfield University students come from outside of the Fairfield community and have faced similar challenges in their areas. Pharmacies all over the country have reported that tests are hard to come by and are often completely sold out in just a day. This pushed the Biden administration to state that they will be purchasing and providing 500 million at-home COVID tests that can be ordered for free by mid-January. 

If students don’t have access to free COVID tests, the cost of the at-home tests can be around $24. If at-home test kits aren’t available, PCR tests can cost around $150 without medical insurance. The University did not mention in its email that they would help any students with need-based funding for COVID tests, nor did they mention whether support will be provided for students unable to find tests within their area. 

The Mirror will continue to update on the matter. 

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