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Scripps transition to Student Health Services COVID-19 Testing Causes Students Initial Challenges but Long-Term Benefits

Ellen Hu ’24 and Alyssa Leong ’23
Staff Writers

On Oct. 4, Scripps students received an email from Interim President Amy Marcus-Newhall announcing that COVID-19 testing would no longer be administered at the 240 House. Instead, the college would transition to testing solely at Student Health Services (SHS).

“Relocating student testing to SHS will streamline students’ access to testing and align Scripps’ student testing protocols with those of most of the other Claremont Colleges. We are making this change to increase students’ compliance with the College’s weekly testing requirement, which is essential to protecting the ongoing health and safety of our entire community,” wrote Marcus-Newhall in the email.

Prior to this announcement, Scripps was the only college that was holding independent testing; nurses and Scripps staff held testing at the 240 House. Students made appointments through the Healthfully app to get a nasal swab COVID-19 test. Results were usually returned to students within two to three days.

SHS uses saliva COVID-19 testing. Students can now get tested at Pomona College’s Walker Hall, Harvey Mudd College’s Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons East Patio, or the Tranquada Center.

Unlike the nose swab tests conducted at the 240 House, saliva tests at SHS require students not to consume any liquids or food one hour before their test. Additionally, application of chapstick and brushing teeth can interfere with test results.

In a follow-up email, Interim Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Adrianna diBartolo-Beckman clarified that each grade would be assigned to get tested on certain days. First year students are assigned to Mondays, sophomores are assigned to Tuesdays, juniors are assigned to Wednesdays, and seniors are assigned to Thursdays. Students who were not able to get tested earlier in the week can get tested on Fridays.

While students no longer have to schedule appointments to get tested through the Healthfully app, weekly symptom tracking surveys on the app are still required. Vaccinated students must fill out a new survey every Monday, while unvaccinated students fill out daily health checks.

However, according to Scripps College’s COVID-19 dashboard, 99 percent of students and 96 percent of employees are vaccinated. Since Sept. 3, the school has reported three positive student cases and two positive employee cases.

Scripps’ policies for a positive test remain the same as the beginning of the year, according to the Scripps Strong website. Upon receiving a positive test, students will be contacted by the location that provided their test, as well as their dean on call. The student will be moved to an off-campus isolation space for 10-12 days, with food being delivered from Malott Dining Commons.

However, students who have been in close contact with other students who have tested positive are put in modified quarantine spaces. They are allowed to stay in their residence, attend classes, attend SHS appointments, attend Malott commons and use shared bathrooms, but they must remain masked and cannot attend any social events on or off campus.

Additionally, the Scripps helpline at (909)-308-2711 must be called upon a positive test of close contact. This is also a Scripps Nurse triage line, which helps students evaluate symptoms, and if necessary, advises testing, isolation or quarantine.

Students who do not comply with weekly tests will be reprimanded in a five-step process. The first time a student does not get tested, they will receive a warning email. After they have missed five tests, they will be suspended.

With the transition from 240 House to SHS testing, many students found warning emails in their inboxes despite the fact that they had tested at the 240 House location.

Nastia Kurochkina ’21 received one of these emails over fall break. In the email, she was alerted that SHS did not have any records that she had completed a COVID-19 test during the fall semester and warned her that further lack of testing would result in more disciplinary action.

Kurochkina, who had completed a COVID-19 test at SHS the week prior to receiving the email, was initially worried. Yet, after emailing Dean diBartolo-Beckman explaining her situation, she was reassured that she would not face further disciplinary action.

“I’ve read through the procedures and I think what the college is implementing is perfectly reasonable,” said Kurochkina. “It’s just really frustrating when you do get tested, get your negative results back, and then receive a [warning] email.”

While Dean diBartolo-Beckman’s quick response counteracted the initial stress of receiving the email, Kurochkina was still annoyed. “Because Scripps first decided to do things separately and then decided to join SHS, we kind of have to adjust half-way through the semester and it’s just such a mess,” she said.

More problems arose surrounding communications of results from the 240 House location. Some students who got tested at the Scripps location the week before transitioning to SHS did not receive the results from their tests.

Jacqueline Loh ’21 was one of these students. She and a friend completed their tests on the Thursday before the transition but have yet to receive their results for that day.

“I think maybe something happened in the transition from 240 [House] to Student Health [Services], but I think it’s a little ridiculous that this is still happening in October,” said Loh. “It’s halfway through the semester.”

Still, students have found that testing at SHS has been a good choice overall. The main benefit expressed by students has been the quick turnaround for results.

“I liked 240 [House] because it was closer and faster for the nose swabs, but SHS has been fine so far,” Loh said. “I do like getting the results faster.”

Kurochkina echoed this sentiment, emphasizing how the quick results can be beneficial for students showing possible symptoms. “I am really glad that they’re doing the saliva tests because the results do arrive much quicker and so I do think that if you’re worried that you may have COVID-19 it’s much easier to isolate yourself,” she said.

If students have questions about Scripps’ COVID-19 testing policies, more information can be found on the Scripps Strong Website. Scripps’ testing results can be found on the COVID-19 dashboard.

Image Source: Pomona College