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The Antelope

The Antelope

Random testing protects campus health, safety

Photo by Jiyoon Kim Students and faculty help with random COVID-19 testing that is administered on UNK’s campus.

There I was, minding my own business, when at 9:50 a.m. on Sept. 24, I heard a ping from my phone. I looked at my home screen to see what had interrupted my academic studies (which, if I’m being completely honest was only 20% studying and 80% jamming to the Hamilton Cast Recording). 

I had received an email from Dr. John Falconer. The subject line read, “COVID-19 Testing Information: Please Read.” Following the subject line’s instruction, I glanced at the first few paragraphs and saw an underlined portion telling me I had been selected to be randomly tested for COVID-19. 

I was unsure of what to think. I had heard from many that a nasal-swab test was uncomfortable and, at times, painful. When it comes to pain, I, like any other sane individual, would rather steer clear of it. I was nervous and thoroughly considered opting out of the voluntary process. I was almost certain I was not infected with COVID-19, and I thought there was no reason for me to get tested. 

I thought about the outcome of this decision. If I didn’t get tested and was not infected, then there would be no harm done. However, I let my mind wander to the worst-case scenario. If I chose not to get tested and was in the early stages of infection or was an asymptomatic carrier, I would be endangering my professors, peers and other Kearney residents. 

I decided it made more sense for me to be cautious. The email Dr. Falconer sent contained a link to sign up for a test through Test Nebraska. I clicked the link, signed up and showed up for testing at the location listed in the email. 

The nurses administering tests were extremely helpful and made the testing process simple and easy to handle. The test was uncomfortable, but it was not painful like I thought it was going to be. It was done in about 10 seconds. 

Then came the waiting. 

The test was not bad, but the waiting was agonizing. Although I was pretty sure I was COVID free, the anxiety of waiting for the results was nerve-racking. But if I could go back to that morning, and opt out of random testing, I wouldn’t. 

Since quarantine started in March, UNK has been thinking of how students can return to campus safely. They created multi-paged documents outlining plans for how UNK could welcome students back. Almost all of us are thrilled that we were allowed to return, and we would love to stay on campus for the remainder of the fall semester. 

However, in order to do so, precautions must be followed. We constantly get new information on COVID-19, and plans can change and turn on a dime. To stay here, UNK needs to have adequate information to know the protocol to implement, and random testing provides that information. 

Believe it or not, it isn’t just the responsibility of UNK to keep us safe—it’s our responsibility, too. That’s why we wear masks and maintain social distancing—so we can protect others and continue learning face-to-face on campus. In order to receive the benefits of staying on campus, we must actively participate to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Through these acts of sacrifice, we can make sure Kearney is safe for all its residents. To those who have participated in random testing: thank you for your service to me and other residents of Kearney. 

After roughly four and a half days of waiting, my test results came back negative. (Hip,hip hooray!) On Oct. 8, five days, five hours, and 54 minutes after getting my results, I received an email from Dr. Falconer telling me I had been selected for random testing for COVID-19. Again. 

Reluctantly, I clicked the link, signed up and I plan on going to get tested at the assigned time. Although I have to undergo the uncomfortable nose-swab and the tantalizing waiting, for my peers, my campus and my community, it will be worth it.

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