Passport to Campus event to test student body for COVID-19

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Jesse Wiederhold/NW TESTING SWAB—NMU worker prepares a swab to be sent to the testing center run by Tempus, a medical company located in Chicago. The test will take three to five days and students will receive their testing results via their email.

Jesse Wiederhold

Back to school looks a little different this fall, but the welcome is just as warm. For every NMU student to return safely to campus, NMU implemented a plan to test every student and faculty member before the start of the Fall semester. NMU’s Passport to Campus event is one of the most important events for students to attend this year.

Firstly, students must book their appointment time if they haven’t already. Students can sign up from the link in their NMU email, or visit the Passport to Campus website. The event is for students to get their COVID-19 tests, pick up textbooks, parking passes, and dorm keys. All of this takes place in the Northern Center. Testing for employees was held on July 27. For everyone else, it is from August 3 through August 15.

When arriving at Passport to Campus, there is a link in the confirmation email to check in. Masks are required, and once checked in a text is sent to the person in attendance.

After masking up, enter through the main Northern Center doors for a temperature check. Once cleared, staff will direct the student through to scan their ID. The event is well-directed and guided in order to ensure social distancing. NMU, as well as other universities, are faced with this big challenge of getting everyone on campus. Visible safety precautions are of the utmost importance. Barriers are in place where applicable, and sanitizing stations are tactically spread about at the event.

After the student performs their own swab, they simply drop it in a test tube. Once swabbed, students may continue about the rest of the Passport event.

Testing for NMU was made possible in collaboration with Tempus, a medical company located in Chicago. Something unique was broad use of the ‘shallow swab’ over the infamous deep nasal swab many complained about during testing.

“The shallow swab goes about one inch into the nostril and has been tolerated by most everyone I’ve asked,” said NMU’s Medical Director, Dr. Christopher Kirkpatrick. “A deep or shallow swab processed in the same manner (PCR) appears to be very equivalent with sensitivity based on recent studies,” he added.

“This surveillance testing will help identify and intervene in cases where students, faculty, or staff may have the virus, but have minimal or no symptoms. Those cases are particularly important in my mind, as they may not realize [what] they have and are spreading, the virus.” Dr. Kirkpatrick concluded.

This is very crucial, as the CDC reports nearly four in ten people to feel well despite carrying the virus. Passport to Campus took much planning and coordination to run smoothly. Students and faculty have all chipped in to make the process as smooth as possible.

“I work on the data collection, which is basically just scanning the test tube from the COVID test kit and handing it all back to the nurse,” said Lindy White, a junior at NMU studying environmental studies and sustainability. “It’s not that bad honestly, my only concern is how long it takes to get test results back. It took four-ish days to get my test results back (negative), but six for my girlfriend to get her[s],” added White.

“I just don’t like how long it takes to get results, it’s worrying,” White concluded. She also reported families have been seen entering residence contrary to the rules – despite instructions not to.

If a student is unable to attend Passport to Campus, please contact [email protected] ASAP to let them know.