As the pandemic has continued, Meredith College has switched some COVID-19 procedure handling from Student Health to the Dean of Students. The Herald reached out to Dr. Mary Johnson, Director of Student Health, and Ann Gleason, Dean of Students, to hear more about this change.
Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason said “required surveillance testing for COVID-19 has been and continues to be a collaboration between the Student Health Center and the Dean of Students.”
“Student Health is responsible for the testing logistics and handling/processing results, and the Dean of Students handles the compliance aspects of testing,” they explained.
The cost for obtaining this required testing is $75, which is “billed directly to the students’ accounts,” but “[to] help pay for this testing, grants are available through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund Grant for COVID Testing Expenses," according to Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason.
At the beginning of the Spring 2022 semester, students received an email from the Executive Leadership Team saying Meredith is “reducing [their] reliance on contact tracing and focusing on the more effective strategies” like high-quality masks and boosters. However, in the spring of 2020, public health students went through training to contact trace. When asked why students aren’t being employed for contact tracing, Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason said, “The model of having public health students support contract tracing did not work for our campus…the students being called were concerned about their privacy and preferred to learn about their exposure from a member of the Student Health staff.”
When asked about the possibility of requiring COVID-19 booster shots, Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason referenced an email sent to students before the Spring 2022 semester began. “At this time, the College is strongly encouraging boosters for the campus community,” they said. “The CDC recently released a schedule and definition for what it means to be up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. If eligible, please complete the regimen and submit that information in Meredith’s COVID-19 portal.”
“Being up-to-date with your COVID vaccine is not required by the College at this time but does have implications for quarantine and isolation protocols,” Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason said. Because of this, they explained that Meredith “may require weekly testing in the future for students and employees who are not current on their vaccines.”
“Quarantine and isolation requirements are overseen by our campus health professionals in concert with local and state health agencies and are individualized and based on our current campus environment,” Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason reiterated. “These guidelines are subject to change based on local and campus conditions.”
Because the Omicron variant is more contagious than previous variants, Meredith College has begun their response by providing students with 10 free KN95 masks. Students can go to the campus store and present their CamCard to pick them up. For more information in regards to quarantine, isolation, vaccines and COVID-19 protocols at Meredith, visit the Meredith Staying Strong website.
Correction: The original version of this article did not specify that the statements received by The Herald were a collaboration by Dr. Johnson and Dean Gleason.
By Freya Dahlgren, Opinion Editor