Surveillance testing is a simple, necessary process

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An emergency doctor holds a nasal swab for a COVID-19 test.

Jordan Radloff, Opinion Editor

This week the university’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program began. Increased testing for students attending on-campus classes and events will hopefully allow the university to conduct more effective contact tracing. Taking the nasal swab test was a simple process and all students selected to participate should have nothing to fear.

An email was sent out Monday by university Provost Beth Ingram informing students of the new mandatory surveillance testing program. Shortly after receiving this email, I received another email from Campus Clear informing me that I was selected to self-administer my test between 8 a.m. and noon Thursday at the Northwestern Medicine NIU Health Center.

Initially, I was surprised by how quickly I was being required to take a COVID-19 test, as I had recently submitted a negative test prior to moving into my residence hall. However, I am appreciative of the university’s efforts to get more students who are on campus tested as soon as possible.

I showed up to the NIU Health Center building at about 10:30 a.m. Thursday. The time they gave me, 8 a.m. to noon, happened to be convenient for my schedule. If a student is unable to go take the test during their assigned time slot, they are able to fill out an online form to reschedule, according to the email I received from Campus Clear. The university seems to be willing to work with students’ busy schedules, and it is our job to ensure our COVID-19 tests are completed as soon as possible when they are assigned.

When I entered the Health Center, I was the only student present at the time. It was pleasing to see that the first-floor office, where the tests were being conducted, was not crowded with many students. Practicing safe social distancing was easily achieved and the entire testing process was simple.

I was handed a clipboard with three short forms to fill out while sitting at a desk with a lady who asked me a few questions. The only information I was required to give was my name, Z-ID number and birthday, so there were not any difficult health insurance questions or anything like that.

After completing my forms, I was given a COVID-19 testing kit and asked to walk into another room. The health care professional in the room led me through the steps of self-administering my test. The nasal swab used was non-invasive, which means that it does not have to go as far up each nostril as other types of COVID-19 tests. My eyes did begin to water as I used the nasal swab, however.

The entire testing process was simple and should be easy for all students required to take it to do so. I am now awaiting my test results, which should be ready in three to five days, through the Northwestern Medicine MyChart system. It is essential all students who are selected to take the test make sure they do it on time in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.