As Thanksgiving break approaches and students prepare to travel home, Elon University students are considering whether or not to get tested for the coronavirus. Beginning on Nov. 16, Elon began providing pre-departure COVID-19 testing at no cost to students, faculty and staff.
To get tested before departing from campus this Thanksgiving students can make an appointment online. To get tested with the new Abbott BinaxNow antigen test, students will go to Alumni Gym at their designated time, follow the testing directions and return an hour later to receive their results. The antigen test is quicker and cheaper than the PCR. Positive results will be confirmed with an additional PCR test, and negative results do not have to be retested.
Some students, like freshman Jacqueline VonTersch, want the peace of mind that comes with a negative result and she doesn’t want to spread the virus to her family.
“I’m traveling, and I’m going back to my family,” VonTersch said. “My parents aren’t crazy old, but they’re older.”
Junior Lily Horovitz is returning to Maryland, which has recommended travel restrictions. Marylanders are encouraged to test upon returning to the state or receive a negative result 72 hours prior to returning.
“I know it’s not COVID-safe to fly either way, but flying COVID-negative makes me feel better than flying not knowing that I’m COVID-negative,” Horovitz said. “It’s decency to others. If I'm positive, I want to take precautions to isolate and not go home.”
However, not all Elon students are testing before they leave. Freshman Katelyn Litvan said she will be flying home this Friday and plans on getting tested once she gets back.
“I’m going to an airport on Friday, so I’m having a COVID test sent home that I’m going to take Saturday morning. I feel like if I’m going to get it, I’m more susceptible in an airport. I’m going to get it when I’m home so I know for sure that my exposure’s over,” Litvan said. “I think it’s great [that Elon is doing pre-departure testing]. I think we should have provided more testing all year.”
The university expects the new antigen test being used for Thanksgiving break to be continued Winter Term and spring semester, according to Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee. Students can expect to be tested a few days before the beginning of Winter Term; a return schedule will be released in the coming weeks, but freshmen can expect to return around Jan. 9.
In an interview with Elon News Network, Stein said expanded testing at Elon has been announced following the discovery that positive cases had more close contacts than expected.
“[Students] will get an antigen or PCR test on campus, and then begin to get ready for classes on the 13th,” Stein said. “The exponential spread is just at a much faster rate, and you’ve got to have more testing to wrap your arms around that.”