By: Grace Coughlan, Associate Editor and Meghan Hudson, Editor-in-Chief
Photo by Brendan Felch/ The Towerlight
Symptomatic Towson University residents share their experiences being denied on-campus COVID-19 testing due to confusion surrounding test site restrictions.
Through the fall term, restrictions have fluctuated for the Health Center location. At the start of the semester, all TU students were granted access to the on-campus testing site in order to complete baseline testing within 14 days of a return to campus.
Once sentinel testing was put in place, PCR testing at the Health Center was restricted to athletes, those selected for sentinel testing, those with a doctor’s note, or with symptoms.
One week before Thanksgiving break, access opened to all on-campus residents to ensure a safe return home.
Resident of Paca House, Nicole Stanley, says a Residence Life Coordinator recommended she get tested at the Health Center after other residents noticed Stanley coughing.
“Unfortunately, the day of the test, got there right on time, and was told that I was not in the system,” Stanley said. “They asked if I did my [Tigers Care Quickscan], to which I replied no, and they told me something along the lines of fill out the Tiger check, and if it deems you at risk then you will be scheduled.”
To Stanley, it wasn’t clear that the daily scan was a requirement in order to keep her appointment.
Julia Fluke, another resident of Paca House, says she struggled not having access to testing sooner than one week prior to Thanksgiving break.
“I was happy that Towson let me get tested [on Nov. 20], before I went back to my family for Thanksgiving,” Fluke said. “However, it was hypocritical for Towson to turn me away [on Nov. 2], since they are ‘strict’ on COVID-19.”
Fluke says she first sought a test on Nov. 2, after experiencing symptoms.
“I went to the Health Center to get tested because I was having bad headaches and sniffles and [I] also lived in a dorm where I felt it was my responsibility to get tested when I feel sick,” Fluke said. “I was not part of the sentinel testing.”
According to Fluke, she was denied a test after speaking with Health Center staff.
“I spoke with a woman and a man at the front desk of the testing center,” Fluke said. “They said I can’t get tested because I’m not an athlete or in sentinel testing, even though I felt sick.”
According to the University, those who are symptomatic should have access to the on-campus site.
“Any students who are symptomatic or who present a medical provider’s request for a COVID-19 PCR test can schedule a test appointment at the Health Center,” the University confirmed with The Towerlight. “Beyond that, capacity and reservations for testing are being reserved for mandatory testing and sentinel testing, which is the method TU is utilizing to monitor and respond to the existence of the virus on campus.”
As a note, the University’s COVID-19 Testing page does not specify that athletes or those who are symptomatic have access to the testing site, though according to health center staff, athletes do.
“COVID-19 testing is available at the University Health Center only for students, faculty and staff who need initial return testing, testing at the request of a healthcare provider, or for those selected for sentinel testing,” the site reads.
Fluke emphasized the fact that she was trying to protect herself and those that she lives around by trying to get tested.
“I was angry when they turned me away,” Fluke said. “I live in a dorm with a bunch of people who have tested positive or know someone who has. I thought Towson would care more about their students.”
More information on COVID-19 Testing at TU can be found on their website.