COVID-19 positives trigger mass Collins Hall testing

Students gather outside of Collins Residence Hall. Emileé Edwards | Photographer

By Meredith Pratt | Staff Writer

An email was sent out to numerous residents of Collins Residence Hall Wednesday morning notifying them that they were randomly chosen to partake in mandatory COVID-19 testing.

The testing, which is set to take place Thursday, was prompted by the discovery of traces of the virus in the dorm’s wastewater.

The email sent out to Collins residents said: “As part of Baylor’s efforts to stop the spread of novel coronavirus, we began routinely monitoring the sanitary sewer system to detect traces of the virus.”

Jason Cook, Vice President for Marketing and Communications and Chief Marketing Officer for Baylor, clarified what the testing will entail.

“We are approaching Collins Hall in a similar manner to the Martin situation last week,” Cook said. “We are target testing 15% of the residents to determine an initial prevalence of COVID-19. This target testing is on top of the 5% of Collins residents who will be tested as part of the University’s random testing that started on Monday.”

When asked how likely it will be that Collins is given reside-in-place orders, Cook said it was “too early to predict any decisions, as we are in the data-gathering stage at this point.”

A California freshman who spoke on the condition of anonymity shared that her experience in Collins has not made her feel safe, despite the several safety guidelines in place.

“[Collins] is the place I feel most unsafe on campus, which is sad because I feel like where I live, I should feel comfortable,” the resident said.

“There are a lot of girls here who don’t follow the policies. Most of the time people wear face masks up and down the halls. The issue comes into when other girls go into each other’s rooms without face masks on, or in the community room. Girls will go hang out together in the community room and then take off their masks,” the resident said. “It is like they think because they are friends, they can’t get COVID from each other.”

The resident said her biggest fear is Collins having to quarantine like Martin Hall.

“I 100% believe if the girls in Collins don’t start following the rules, we will be Martin sometime soon. This would suck because me and my roommates are doing everything possible to stay healthy,” the resident said. “The neglect of others would lead us to have to suffer the consequences which would be really lame.”

While thankful for the opportunity to come to Waco, the resident said she “doesn’t think in-person school will work in the long run.”

“I really appreciate that Baylor tried to have us come back in person, but I feel like at this point there is not enough resources to quarantine entire dorms over and over again,” the resident said.

A Texas freshman living in Collins, who also requested to remain anonymous, said she received the email Wednesday that she was one of the residents randomly selected to be tested.

Unlike the previous resident, she said she feels safe living in Collins because she said she knows “Baylor is doing everything they can to keep the residence hall as safe and clean as possible, so [the residents] stay healthy.”

“The biggest thing is that [the residents] want to respect other people and all stay as healthy as possible, so the easiest way to do that is unite and follow the rules so that we are hopefully not part of a bigger problem later on,” the resident said.

The resident said she believes testing 15% of residents could be beneficial.

“Testing everyone would be hectic and 15% is probably a good enough percentage to get an idea of what we are dealing with, if anything at all,” the resident said.

“I think if there is a significant breakout in Collins like Martin, it would make the most sense to quarantine to keep the university and everyone in it as safe as possible,” the resident said. “I think if the best way to help the decrease on campus is for all of us to quarantine, then we would all be more than willing to comply to that idea, even if it is not ideal for us.”