As students living in residence halls and off-campus housing near Chapel Hill prepare to return home for winter break, UNC is extending COVID-19 testing hours at the Carolina Union toward the end of the semester.
The University will extend testing hours during the week of Nov. 16 to Nov. 20. Testing will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during that week to give students more opportunity to be tested before leaving campus.
Testing at the Union is for students who are not experiencing symptoms and who have not been in close contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms or believe you have been exposed, testing is available by appointment at the Campus Health Testing Center.
“We want to make it very easy for students to be able to get tested to prevent the spread in their communities and certainly from carrying the virus to their friends and family,” Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson said.
Johnson said the University decided to implement the extended hours to accommodate as many students’ schedules as possible, especially because of how popular testing at the Union has been. They have conducted more than 1,400 tests there in the past three days, she said.
“Some folks have schedules that lend themselves to coming later in the afternoon or early evening, some folks do better early afternoon, or at lunchtime,” Michelle Camarena, director of nursing for Campus Health, said. “So, this just gives an opportunity to kind of get as many folks as we can.”
Quinn Bankson, a sophomore public policy major, said he thinks the extended hours will encourage more people to get tested in time to get results back.
“Lots of times, people midday realize that they should get tested before an event,” he said. “Once it's 4 p.m. on a Thursday or Friday, it can be hard to get in there, so I think that will be really beneficial to people that are thinking ahead.”
In an email sent to the Carolina community on Thursday, Johnson and Ken Pittman, executive director for Campus Health, urged students to make an exit plan for testing so they receive their results before traveling.
“This plan should include steps to reduce your risk of being exposed to COVID-19 during the 14 days before you travel, to monitor for symptoms, and to get tested before you leave — all of which are critical pieces to help prevent illness among your family and friends,” they said in the email.
Alex McGowan, a junior majoring in psychology and exercise sport science, said she plans to continue getting tested regularly until right before she heads home to protect her family.
“It's a change in environment and the people that I interact with, so I want to make sure that my family knows that I'm negative before I go home,” McGowan said.
Johnson also recommended that students check arrival requirements for their home communities before leaving Chapel Hill.
From Nov. 23 to Nov. 25, testing at Union will return to its normal hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m, according to the Campus Health website. Camarena said there would not be extended hours then because the original hours should be adequate for the reduced number of students on campus at that point.
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