After two years of operation, Colgate University’s on-campus testing site closed indefinitely on Wednesday, May 11, marking yet another administrative step taken toward a return to “normalcy.” The decision comes from the university’s Task Force on Reopening, in collaboration with Student Health Services and the Health Analytics team.
“Our testing program … is resource intensive, and so we decided that, given the smaller population of students on campus for the summer, we would close the large scale testing site as the semester wrapped up. The widespread availability of at-home testing kits also factored into our decision,” said Geoffrey Holm, associate professor of biology and a co-chair of the task force.
The testing site offered free COVID-19 PCR testing for any member of the Colgate Community. According to Holm, testing will continue to be available for symptomatic students at Student Health Services. The closing of the site marks another change in the administration’s COVID-19 policy — according to Mary Williams, the director of environmental health and safety, unvaccinated community members will no longer be required to test weekly. The task force will reconvene at a later date to determine whether testing requirements will resume in the fall.
According to Dr. Ellen Larson, a physician at Student Health Services, reduced testing is unlikely to increase the risk of an outbreak on campus.
“I think it’s clear to say that COVID is with us, and it is going to be with us for quite a while,” Larson said. “We have vaccines and boosters … and we have treatments now that decrease the risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death. … Based on what we are seeing now, I don’t anticipate that stopping required testing for the small number of unvaccinated campus community members is going to increase the risk of outbreaks. I anticipate we will see outbreaks over time the way we see flu outbreaks. How we navigate those will depend on the science of the day and the state and federal guidance and requirements.”
A Colgate Digest email sent by Vice President of Communications Laura Jack on Monday, April 11, informed the campus community that the task force renewed its recommendation to the university to maintain its current COVID-19 vaccination requirements for the the 2022-2023 academic year. Per the university’s guidelines, which match those put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), being “up-to-date” means “having received all recommended doses in a primary series of COVID-19 vaccine and booster doses, when eligible,” according to Jack’s email.
For asymptomatic students, staff or faculty seeking worried-well testing, at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests continue to be sold at Kinney Drugs and at Dougherty Pharmacy in town.