Baylor moves to once-weekly testing, closes Hankamer/Cashion COVID-19 testing center

The COVID-19 testing center located in between Cashion Academic Center and Hankamer School of Business will be closed after Oct. 15. Grace Fortier | Photographer

By Samantha Bradsky | Reporter

President Linda Livingstone released an announcement Thursday reducing COVID-19 testing requirements to once weekly for unvaccinated individuals, resulting in the closing of the Hankamer/Cashion COVID-19 testing center.

Once-weekly COVID-19 testing will be effective starting Oct. 18, and the Hankamer/Cashion COVID-19 testing center will close after Oct. 15.

“I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that if Baylor remained in ‘good shape’ and we started seeing signs of improvement in the Waco area, we would reevaluate our virus precautions for the remainder of the fall semester,” Livingstone said in her announcement.

While the testing requirement has been reevaluated, masks will still be required in classroom and lab settings.

Jim Marsh, dean for Student Health and Wellness and executive director of Counseling Services, took part in the decision to close the Hankamer/Cashion testing center and reduce testing requirements.

“Currently, we have 30 active cases in the last 11 days,” Marsh said. “[We] have really trended in a very, very good direction, which is also why we’ve dropped from testing twice a week to once a week. Our vaccination rates by the numbers: faculty are just over 90%; our staff are just over 85[%]; our students are just over 76[%].”

“If we’re going down to once-weekly testing, there’s a lot less demand that you need over the course of a week,” assistant vice president of Media & Public Relations Lori Fogleman said, explaining the reasons for shutting down the Hankamer/Cashion testing center.

With the closing of the Hankamer/Cashion testing center, North Village Community Center (NVCC) will become the main center for COVID-19 testing.

“We landed on the North Village Community Center for a variety of reasons,” Marsh said. “One was that it had the space, the capacity. It had an entrance, exit, all the movement; there are all these things you look for in a testing site. The only reason we even added the Hankamer/Cashion location was we were going to test twice a week. We just wanted to make sure that there was enough accessibility to test at those two locations.”

According to Marsh, the NVCC has Waitz app sensors so that students can check to see how busy the testing center is throughout the day.

Despite appreciation for the lowered weekly testing requirements, many view the Hankamer/Cashion testing center as the prime location for testing due to its central location on campus.

Pleasant Hill, Calif., freshman Haley Olson expressed her dismay over the Hankamer/Cashion center being selected to close down.

“It [NVCC] is a very inconvenient location,” Olson said. “Every single time I go to the Cashion Center, there’s like a 40-person line. That’s where most of the people I know get tested. All of my classes are on that side of campus, so it makes no sense for me to walk all the way over there [NVCC]. But it’s nice we only have to test once a week. I’m just not sure it’s a fair trade-off.”

Beginning next week, testing locations include the North Village Community Center, open from 7:45 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:45 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday; Robinson Tower, open from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesdays; and Washington Tower, open from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

“We appreciate everything that the student body has done to work with the university and just make this a great experience,” Marsh said. “We’ve been in a place where we’re able to have the Baylor experience that everyone loves.”