By Matthew Soderberg | News Editor
Baylor announced Thursday a new requirement for returning students this fall: a negative COVID-19 test result. President Linda Livingstone stated in her Presidential Perspective that the university would provide the tests by mail soon leading to mixed reactions from students.
Baylor is among the first to take the new step. The University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Christian University all have testing available on campus, but according to their respective websites, none are providing tests to students before they come back to campus thus far.
The mandatory testing adds onto Baylor’s response to the pandemic in preparation for the upcoming fall semester, which already included a mask mandate among several new cleaning measures and 24% of undergraduate courses occurring online.
Meanwhile, TCU has a mask mandate and has cancelled Family Weekend and Homecoming festivities. Texas A&M mandates masks, and each face-to-face course will come with a remote option. Like Baylor, UT moved the end of course instruction to the week of Thanksgiving, and it has worked with public health officials on a testing strategy for those with symptoms and possible contacts.
The email from President Livingstone did not address how the university would get the tests to the students. Many students, for instance, live in Waco for the summer despite listing their residence back at home. When asked for clarification, no new information was available.
“We will provide more information next week,” Baylor said.
The lack of available information has led to some consternation from students. Athens, Ohio junior Lindsay Zatta said she didn’t feel confident the testing would provide an accurate representation.
“At first, I was like ‘That’s a really cool idea. I’m glad that they’re doing it,’” Zatta said. “But my following thoughts were that people wouldn’t be able to do the tests correctly, just because of the procedure of shoving the Q-tip up your nose. It’s not a fun thing and it kind of hurts, so I think there could be a lot of false negatives or inaccurate results.”
She also said she was worried because she has been in Waco for the majority of the summer, so she’s not sure whether she’ll get her hands on a test in time.
“I don’t know if they’d be sending it to my residence in Ohio or my residence here in Waco, so I think that’s something the university needs to clarify,” Zatta said.
Despite some question marks, others are clear that Baylor is moving in the right direction. Austin senior Grant Galassini said the university is doing its best to transition back to having students on campus safely.
“I feel more comfortable about it because knowing the status on all the students will take out all the guessing,” Galassini said. “People are going to find out if they have [COVID-19] that would have come and spread it otherwise.”