RWU maintains low COVID-19 positivity rate thus far in fall semester

Testing to continue in spring 2022 semester


Wilhelmina Giese/The Hawks' Herald

Students in line to get tested in the recreation center in November.

According to Vice President of Student Life Dr. John King, the Roger Williams University campus community has not exceeded a 0.23% positivity rate for any week this semester to date.

“This is a remarkable feat given state and regional COVID cases,” said King.

As of Nov. 29, there have been 89 total positives this semester according to COVID Prevention Coordinator Kathleen Yorks.

Over 57,000 tests including pooled tests, rapid antigen tests, and individual PCR tests have been administered between Aug. 15 and Nov. 22 which is the last day testing data is available as of Nov. 29.

King said the testing center typically has long lines around 11 a.m. when they open to about 11:45 a.m. He attributed the long lines at this time to two reasons: people with appointments wanting to get their test done early and students who do not have appointments going at that time for the same reason.

Junior Luke Strand said he has encountered long lines at the testing center.

“Testing has not been too bad honestly,” said Strand. “Everytime I go [to get tested] the line looks kind of long, but it moves pretty quick.”

Senior Ian McCallum expressed a similar sentiment.

“I guess the one trouble there [at the testing center] is that the lines can get pretty long, but it [the line] typically moves pretty fast,” said McCallum.

The testing center relies on volunteers from every division of the university and about 60 people are volunteering this semester according to King.

“It’s worked well,” said King. “They [volunteers] cover for each other when somebody has a conflict … people always step up and cover for someone that needs to go out.”

Testing center hours this semester have been 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The scheduling system for the testing center had an error the week of Nov. 8 where appointments between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. could be made. RWU Public Affairs sent out an email to the RWU community Nov. 9.

King said around 150 students were impacted by the error in the scheduling program.

King credited testing and indoor masking as the “keys” that have kept the university at a low positivity rate. He said every university in New England should be concerned about post-Thanksgiving because students go home to their friends and families who may not be in a testing environment and they may be interacting with people who are not vaccinated.

“Upon return, it’s going to be crucial for every member of our community to test those first three days back and to keep testing right through,” said King.

A common piece of feedback on testing policies King said he’s received are individuals wanting more testing hours. Some individuals want testing hours past 5 p.m. and King said the university cannot do that because they have an arrangement with Salve Regina University where twice a week RWU drives their tests to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and twice a week Salve does the same for RWU.

In regard to testing procedures for next semester King said, “We are having internal discussions with the Reopening Roger Steering Committee and cabinet about our testing plan for next semester. We will continue testing. If the frequency is going to change for any of the populations, we will make that announcement either later this semester or in January.”