By: Andrew Brosky, Connor Lutts, Brian Ventura
Thanks to an aggressive communications campaign by Stevenson University this summer, students were urged to be fully vaccinated before returning to campus for the fall semester. Surprisingly, when students did return, they may have discovered that their vaccination status was different from some of their classmates.
According to Vice President of Student Affairs, Tiffany Sanchez, all COVID-19 Policies are located on the “Keep Stevenson Safe” website. The website states that all students had to be vaccinated, though there was an exception. According to the Maryland General Assembly, “Unless the Secretary of Health declares an emergency or an epidemic of disease, a child whose parent or guardian objects to immunization on the ground that it conflicts with the parent’s or guardian’s bona fide religious beliefs and practices may not be required to present a physician’s certification of immunization in order to be admitted to school.”
Sanchez said, “Students who are not vaccinated have to be tested weekly, but also are encouraged to use the daily symptom tracker if they feel like they might have symptoms of COVID.”
Stevenson practices this process, Sanchez said, by having exempted students selected for random testing almost every week.
Stevenson has contracted BrightStar Care to test students for COVID-19. BrightStar representative Malissa Johns said members of her organization, “swab students when it is mandated by the state.”
“Athletes get tested every week,” Sanchez said, “and there is a random selection process for all other students.”
BrightStar performs a P.C.R. test that delivers rapid results, within 72 hours. “The P.C.R. test is superior, giving fast accurate results over a rapid test.” Sanchez said.
Stevenson notifies students of their results by email.
One unvaccinated student athlete who wanted to stay anonymous to protect his privacy, said: “The testing process is very easy. You schedule a time every Monday to get tested on campus, then receive the results later that day.”
Stevenson posts mask signs indoors and provides free hand sanitizer all around campus.
“Getting tested every week allows me to know if I am infected with COVID before I show up to campus.” said the student athlete. Unvaccinated students are required to sign an acknowledgement-of-risk waiver.
But, what happens to students who test positive? Sanchez said, “They are also followed up with by people at the wellness center to see if they need to be quarantined or not. ”
Ms. Sanchez said that “well over 90 percent of undergrad students are vaccinated, and students who are not vaccinated cannot live in the dorms and have to commute.”