Quinnipiac prepares for on-schedule start to semester with updated COVID-19 policies

Nicole McIsaac and Melina Khan

Quinnipiac University is requiring students to receive a PCR test within 72 hours or a rapid test within 24 hours of their arrival for the scheduled start of the spring semester on Jan. 24, while also following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s five-day isolation guideline

“We are applying the same level of planning we’ve practiced throughout these past two years, focusing on the latest public health guidelines, safety measures and the best available medical information,” wrote President Judy Olian and Senior Medical Advisor Dr. David Hill in their email to students on Jan. 10. “The physical and mental health of our community is paramount; in-person, on-campus learning and social interactions are vital ingredients of students’ well-being and academic success.” 

Students must provide a printed copy or screenshot of their test results upon arrival to campus, in addition to uploading the record to the Student Health Services patient portal. At-home testing results must contain the student’s name and the date the test was taken printed on the result card or on a piece of paper alongside the test result card. Antibody tests are not accepted. 

Any student who tested positive for COVID-19 within 90 days of returning to campus does not need to provide a new negative test, but must upload the information to the Student Health Services patient portal to be verified. ​​

Some area schools, like the University of Connecticut, have opted to begin their semester with two weeks of remote learning in light of the current state of COVID-19. Despite planning an on-ground start to the spring semester, Quinnipiac previously adapted a remote structure for two weeks during the January-term medical, law and graduate school classes to mitigate the spread of the virus on campus. Instruction will be returned in person Jan. 18.

Masking guidelines will remain in effect, with a requirement for masking while indoors. The university recommends the use of a surgical or FDA-approved N95 or KF94 mask. Other spring on-campus COVID-19 guidelines remain the same as those employed during the fall semester.

Based on an unofficial poll of the Quinnipiac community conducted by The Chronicle, 97 respondents said they agreed with the university’s updated protocols, with 24 respondents reporting they did not agree with the updated protocols. 

Sophomore public relations major Juliana Hamel said she agrees with the new policies and thinks it is important to take precautions amid the omicron variant. 

“We’ve seen how quickly everything can change with this pandemic so I feel safer knowing all the tests are more recent,” Hamel said. “I don’t have any problem wearing a mask, either, so it’s nice to see they’re still going to be enforcing it.” 

We’ve seen how quickly everything can change with this pandemic so I feel safer knowing all the tests are more recent. I don’t have any problem wearing a mask, either, so it’s nice to see they’re still going to be enforcing it.

— Juliana Hamel, a sophomore public relations major

Despite agreeing with the testing, other students said they’re concerned about the difficulty to receive a test within the allotted time frame for those living in heavily populated and affected areas. 

“Typically, in largely populated and affected areas such as New York, it has been increasingly difficult to receive a test within a week’s time,” said Dylan Delury, a senior applied business major. 

With wait times to receive PCR test results varying, Delury said he is concerned that a delay in receiving test results may impact the accuracy of the result.

“If you get lucky enough to schedule an appointment for a standard PCR test the results could take anywhere from 3-7 days from when the test was administered,” Delury said. “Upon the students receiving their results, assuming it is accurate, they will know their results at the time of testing. Meaning, if they were to test again they might have a different result, and who is to say that they haven’t contracted the virus after testing?”

In addition to mandating the booster vaccine, the university will now follow the CDC’s new five-day isolation period. Students may return to class on day six after infection, wearing a mask if asymptomatic or if symptoms are improving without reporting a fever for 24 hours or taking fever-reducing medication. 

“The five-day isolation period was definitely a strange change that was made by the CDC, but I’m not a COVID-19 expert,” said George Maddaloni, a sophomore political science major. “As long as people are quarantining, staying safe and keeping others safe if they have COVID-19, then I’m fine with that.” 

The university also requests that students bring their own supply of rapid at-home testing kits for personal use due to the potential for limits and delays affecting the supply. Despite agreeing with testing requirements, some students said they wished the university provided all testing to students to take. 

“They (both PCR testing and at-home tests) are very hard to come by, and this may be difficult for some families and students to get in the span of the next two weeks,” said Emily Bissel, a second-year 3+1 biology major. “I am in full support of us all getting tested, I just wish the university made it more accessible with that expectation.”

Maddaloni said that he hoped the university tested vaccinated students during the school year to ensure “a better idea of what the situation is like on campus and act accordingly.” 

“I do wish we could return to more of a system that we had last year, where the school was ready to give tests to the students so they could actively monitor the situation on campus,” Maddaloni said. “I think that now with everyone vaccinated, people will assume that they can go back to normal and not catch COVID-19, which isn’t really true.”