Students experience long testing lines
August 31, 2020
On Aug. 23, Victoria Najjar, senior in LAS, moved back to campus. The same day, she went to get tested at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, where she had to wait in line for two and a half hours.
“Because I was in line for two hours and 20 minutes, and the sun was on me, and you have to be six feet apart, I felt very dehydrated from standing in those lines for too long,” Najjar said. “So, when it came time to actually spit into the test tube for the saliva test, I had to force whatever saliva I had into the test tube, and it took me longer than expected.”
Many students experienced similar waiting times the weekend of move-in at other testing centers around campus, like the State Farm Center and the Illini Union.
“The big line situation could have been avoided because knowing that students are coming back and moving in that weekend, they should’ve made an exception and have more available access to students to get tested, being the first weekend back,” Najjar said.
Most of the University’s 17 testing locations were closed the weekend of move-in, and lines spilled into next week.
“We had an unexpectedly large number of people (well over 17,000) choose to test on Monday,” Robin Kaler, Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs, said in an email. “That created not only long lines but also challenges at our processing lab.”
Kaler said the University is working on messaging students to let them know that they can switch their test days to Wednesday-Saturday or Wednesday-Sunday. She said if a student wants to do this, to make sure that the schedule is changed in time in order to keep a building access granted status.
In a recent Massmail, Mike DeLorenzo, senior associate chancellor for Administration and Operations, and Matthew Tomaszewski, executive associate provost for Capital Planning, discussed students’ testing schedules and wait times.
“If you are a student, we highly encourage you to choose one of the weekend schedules to take advantage of shorter lines when the University is less populated,” the email reads. “We are increasing capacity at testing sites for the weekends for your convenience.”
Additionally, the Massmail states the University is working on a tool to check which times and locations at each testing center are least busy so students can make the best decision about where and when to test. Najjar said her friends frequently post on Snapchat to inform their friends about the current length of lines.
With classes and all other campus activities resuming, whether it be online or following social distance guidelines, students have to find time in their day to get tested and also make sure to not eat or drink the hour before testing. Long lines make this inconvenient for students, and the University is working toward easing students’ stress through the in-progress line tracking tool and individualized student schedules.
In a recent Massmail, Chancellor Jones wrote: “As the leader of one of the few major universities in the country offering some in-person instruction, I do not exaggerate when I tell you the world is watching us. And with each day, more eyes are on us and more people are asking ‘Can Illinois really do this?’”