Negative Test Results Provide Positive Outlook on the Semester


Olivia Poust, Editor-in-Chief

As the news is quickly overtaken with stories of colleges being forced to shut down or send their students home due to spikes in COVID-19 cases, it is all the more important for schools to be diligent in their testing of students. Before arriving to campus, every residential Le Moyne student was required to test themselves for COVID-19. Upon arrival, students had to show a copy of their negative test results as well as have another test administered to them.

Right from the beginning, these seemingly simple protocols differentiated Le Moyne from many of its counterparts. Schools such as SUNY Oneonta, which shut down a week into classes, did not require students to test negative before returning to campus, ultimately leading to over 670 of its students becoming infected.

Soon into Le Moyne’s semester, another round of testing took place over the course of three days— 9/15, 9/16, and 9/17. These were pooled saliva tests and they were sent to the COVID-19 testing facility at SUNY Upstate Medical University.

Students swabbed their own mouths under the instruction of student volunteers and staff. The individual tubes were then collected and pooled together in groups of 12.

Molly Coolican, a third-year student in the 3+2 Direct Entry PA program, works as a contact tracer for Le Moyne, which counts as direct patient hours for her application to PA school. She helped collect saliva samples during the most recent batch of testing and feels that this is good experience for her future in public health.

“In my hometown, I work at a hospital and have worked with patients with COVID-19. Yet being responsible to keep a large community safe is a completely different experience,” Coolican explains. “If a case arises, we have to work fast to isolate the case and quarantine any close contacts to prevent it from spreading.”

There is immense pressure to keep the virus from spreading, which is a great responsibility for each member of the Le Moyne community. “It is more than keeping the numbers down. We have to think about what happens if Le Moyne was to be sent home,” says Coolican. “Many faculty and staff members would lose their jobs, and most would take even bigger pay cuts. Students would miss out on another semester of being at Le Moyne, even if many activities are restricted. There is so much on the line.”

Luckily for students and faculty alike, all pools from the September 15, 16, and 17 samples came back negative. Every residential student—amounting to over 1100 people—was tested, meaning there was a 0.00 percent infection rate among those living on campus. Although this is great news for the college, it does not mean the virus is no longer a threat.

“All the tests coming back negative was a huge victory for the Le Moyne community. I think it was surprising to most people on campus,” says Coolican. “However, we cannot change our behavior. Yes, the numbers are down, but one wrong move could lead to catastrophic events… We have to remember, this is temporary and dolphins never swim alone.”

Testing will continue on a weekly basis, sampling from different groups of students rather than the entirety of campus at once. This will help to keep the risk of an outbreak low and ensure that the infection rate doesn’t increase drastically.