As students returned to campus for the start of the spring semester, the college adopted a new COVID-19 testing policy with students responsible for testing themselves twice a week using at-home test kits.
This new testing policy is likely more efficient and economically viable for the college but crucially relies on the student body to self-report any positive test results. While in all likelihood — and as we would all like to believe — the vast majority of students will respect the honor code implicit in this policy, this may not always be the case.
Forgetting to test on the correct days and pick up new testing kits from Sharples is a real possibility for many students. Unfortunately, this is accompanied by the unavoidable fact that forgetfulness and blissful ignorance guarantee no threat of a positive test result and are not (technically) as wrong — or at least are more explainable — than the failure to report a positive result.
There also remains the issue that students may not report positive test results due to a lack of incentive to do so. Statistically, for the vast majority of vaccinated and boosted college students, any case of COVID-19 is now unlikely to be severe. Knowing this, some students may not wish to isolate and miss classes, campus events, or athletic games — especially knowing there are no repercussions for doing so.
One possible solution to increase accountability is by introducing an automated system, similar to the COVID-19 symptoms tracker the college instituted last year, where students are required to electronically check whether they tested positive or negative on the required testing days.
While we appreciate the increased frequency and flexibility of the new testing schedule, we hope that all students can be held accountable for keeping themselves and each other safe.