Baylor COVID-19 procedures updated with harsher punishments, longer testing period

Baylor students face extended COVID regulations mandated by the university. Photo by Brittany Tankersley.

By Camille Cox | Staff Writer

Four weeks into the semester, Baylor updated its testing procedures, including a longer period for testing and harsher punishments for those who do not comply.

On Sept. 15, the Baylor COVID-19 Health Management Team sent out an email to all students who are required to test. Within the announcement, Baylor decided it is “extending its twice-weekly COVID-19 testing requirement for non-exempt students, faculty and staff through at least Oct. 1.”

In a Presidential Perspective email, President Linda Livingstone said the continuation of twice-weekly testing stems from “the continued high COVID-19 case/hospitalization numbers in Waco and McLennan County.”

Livingstone reminded students that these procedures are working, with “classes and events at 100% because you have done what [the university has] asked, from getting vaccinated (our overall vaccination rate is above 75%) to faithfully completing twice-weekly testing.”

Those who fail to comply with procedures will lose their Wi-Fi privileges, and the university will also “remove [their] priority registration privilege for spring 2022 classes.” Students will still be able to register for classes, but they will be moved to the end of the registration line. This update to the testing procedure added a new incentive for students to get tested twice-weekly.

Houston sophomore Chloe Vartanian said she feels these updated procedures may not motivate students in the right way.

“I think that is too extreme,” Vartanian said. “There are so many students who have to get weekly tests, so it ruins the chances for students who genuinely forget to get tested.”

Vartanian said she believes that the university could use positive incentives rather than punishments to encourage students to get their weekly tests.

“I know it’s hard to examine each student,” Vartanian said. “I know why it’s easier to cut off someone’s Wi-Fi or close their registration, but what if they said, ‘You can’t go to football games or events’ — might work better.”

Atlanta sophomore Anton Oswald said he thinks these updates are within reason.

“I think it’s definitely over the top and a lot, but I think that’s their goal,” Oswald said. “They want to do as much as they can to incentivize students, almost to the point that it’s a discomfort if you don’t do what you are supposed to do.”

Students who believe they do not fall into the category of twice-weekly testing can submit documentation of vaccination or of a positive COVID-19 test within the last 180 days.

“I think the update in procedures will have a very minimal effect because the people who aren’t going to get tested to get their Wi-Fi are not going to get tested because they’re incentivized by registration,” Oswald said.

Along with changes in testing procedures, Baylor has also changed its hours and locations for testing. The Cashion/Hankamer testing location is now open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

For more information, students can visit the Frequently Asked Questions page on Baylor’s COVID-19 dashboard.