GREAT FALLS — COVID testing is underway at the University of Providence in Great Falls as students head to classes on campus after an all-remote fall semester. As of Tuesday, several hundred people had been tested.
One or two at a time, students filed in to the McLaughlin Center on Tuesday morning to get tested.
"It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, as I anticipated,” said student Elizabeth Busa. "It didn't even tickle. It's actually not even as bad as the one where they test for strep at the hospital."
While the testing is quick and fairly painless, Busa felt it's kind of a nuisance. "I understand, as far as the school wanting to take precautions, because of exposure. I also feel like it's a little bit, not redundant, but I mean we're going to be close to each other just like we are in public and we still have to take the test to be able to go into class. I mean, I could go without it,” said Bush.
Alluvion Health COVID Response Coordinator Nicole Gilcher has been administering the tests; she said, "It's been going really well. The students have been easy to test.”
The university has partnered with Alluvion to start a new form of testing using saliva instead of a nasal swab but as of Tuesday, that testing wasn't expected to start for about ten more days.
University Registrar Brittany Budeski said the university's months of preparation for bringing students back to campus seems to be paying off. "Our mitigation measures of having students quarantine for a period of time before returning to campus and then getting a baseline test upon getting here is really proving to protect our campus community in the way that we were intending,” said Budeski.
Testing will continue throughout the semester. Students who refuse to get their initial COVID test will not be able to attend class in person. The university plans to test student athletes weekly and randomly select 25 students, faculty, and staff each week to get tested as well.