The fall academic semester has begun at Utica College and there are many new changes. The functionality of student, staff and faculty IDs is now directly linked to the daily health screening. This is a change that raised questions among some in the campus community.
Utica College has high vaccination rates amongst students, faculty and staff. Currently, the total student vaccination rate is 94%, the residential student rate is 95% and the faculty and staff vaccination rate is just above 98%. With the vaccinated population making up a significant majority of the campus, many on-campus wonder why ID functionality is linked to the daily health screenings.
There have been instances where students, staff and faculty forgot to complete their health screenings and then were unable to gain access into buildings. Some say it’s easy to be dishonest when completing the screenings, but it might make them more cognizant of their health.
“The health screenings are a hit or miss issue,” senior child life education major Lexie Beal said. “People could easily say they don’t have symptoms, even if they do. I think by having daily screenings linked to access into buildings, it will help students and faculty keep eyes on their own symptoms and monitor who they’re around.”
According to Vice President of Emergency Management Shad Crowe, the college wanted to open safely, yet still needed accountability from those returning to campus.
“When we had a checkpoint, community members were asked to present their ID and display the Daily Health Screening in order to gain access to campus,” Crowe said. “We wanted to go back and open the campus, however, we still needed people to tell us how they were feeling. The daily health screening is out at 5 a.m. because we have students who have to go to the clinical experiences and employees who need access to campus at that time, so it’s an easy way to keep people accountable.”
For some, completing the daily health screening was a nuisance early on.
“When we first had to start doing the daily health screening, it was kind of a pain because I would forget and then have to interrupt my routine to get it done before entering campus,” senior Hannah Camfield said. “After having to do it for over a year now, I’ve gotten pretty used to it and it has become a part of my daily routine.”
Many agreed that despite taking the time every day to complete the screening, it’s a small price to pay for keeping the college COVID-free.
“I think the daily health screening has all the right intentions,” Resident Assistant Brieann Lohmann said. “Utica College is trying to keep everyone safe. The linkage between the daily health screening and the functionality of student IDs is a way to keep students accountable for doing the health screening.”
According to Crowe, the college has spent an exceptional amount of time and resources on technology and strategies to keep everyone safe. There is also a new testing strategy where floors will be combined for testing. The data from the heath screening helps, but it isn’t guaranteed to be accurate, because some are not truthful when completing the screening.
Alerts are sent out which allow the administration the chance to get ahead of the situation, Crowe said. As of Sept. 14, Utica College has had a total of 14 COVID-19 cases (two active), 10 of which were students and faculty who were fully vaccinated.