On-campus students receive gifts for taking COVID-19 tests

Georgia State housing offers gifts and incentive drawings for students taking COVID-19 tests on campus to encourage more people to get tested. 

Since Sept. 28, University Housing started to provide $5 vouchers for on-campus dining sites like Chick-Fil-A and Steak ‘n Shake for housing students who take COVID-19 tests on-campus. 

To encourage more students to get tested, every week from Oct. 26 through Dec. 4, tested students will qualify for incentive drawings for prizes up to a $500 housing credit. 

As a result, they designed a weekly prize drawing, which includes different kinds of gifts beginning Nov. 2, such as gift cards to the bookstore, an Apple TV and an Amazon Fire Stick. 

Initially, housing directors decided to give away gift vouchers because of the increasing positive test rates and the decreasing number of COVID-19 tests in September among students who live in the dorms. 

Since there are prizes given, more housing students are getting tested. The Georgia State COVID-19 resources website states that the number of tests increased by over 50% compared to September when the testing sites weren’t offering gifts. According to the weekly testing summary, not only are more people getting tested after the implemented gift plan, but the positive test rate also decreased from 5.1% to 1.7%.

However, the percentage of students getting tested is still insufficient to meet the housing directors’ expectations.

“All residents have the ability to get tested weekly,” Shannon Corey, the interim director and associate director of residence life, said. “We would love to have 100% of residents participate in the weekly testing.”

Students are taking an active role in maintaining a safe housing environment. Guilherme Silva, a freshman living in Piedmont North, received a $5 Chick-fil-A voucher from COVID-19 testing here on campus.

“I think they have put [safety] precautions like hand sanitizer stations, floor markings and masks; overall, I would say it’s safe,” Silva said.

From her perspective, Georgia State faculty and students are doing a decent job as the dining halls are sanitized regularly, more people are wearing masks, and temperature checking is required to enter the Recreation Center. 

“However, when I go outside, I sometimes see students with their masks down, which concerns me a bit. But I think the efforts are working since I tested negative,” she said. 

Although most students are satisfied with Georgia State’s COVID-19 prevention measures, some still think additional changes can be made to make it better.  

“Even if the on-campus COVID testing is convenient, it is not completely perfect,” Patel said. “There is not enough social distancing at the testing site. Despite this, it is still very safe overall.”

 As this is only the first week that University Housing has implemented the prize drawing plan, it is too early to release complete statistics on how it affects students’ testing willingness. However, whether students are self-motivated or motivated by the gifts, housing directors want to see more housing residents get tested. 

On-campus students are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, as results show the virus spreads easier on populated college campuses.

A survey done by The New York Times shows that U.S. colleges reported over 210,000 cases, the University of Georgia had over 4,000 cases, and Georgia Tech had over 900. As a result, colleges are seeking effective ways to lower their positive rates. 

In response, Corey thinks housing residents have done well at following guidelines and helping to keep the infection rate low. 

“The important thing is that we all continue to … take responsibility for both our own and our community’s health and safety,” she said. “Our consistent and persistent efforts to wear masks, social distance and get tested will only aid us in preventing further spread of COVID-19.” 

Georgia State will continue to follow the guidelines published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Currently, wearing masks, social distancing and testing remain the primary ways to prevent community spread, Corey said. “University Housing is encouraging all of these methods on a consistent basis.”

Georgia State is also offering free walk-up testing for all students beginning the week of Nov. 9 to understand the COVID-19 condition on campus better. 

After a surge of protests all over the country that led to a rapid result of positive cases, the U.S.’s total number surpassed 10 million. Therefore, Wendy Hensel, the provost and senior vice president for academic affairs, said that Georgia State is continuing the blended model for the spring 2021 semester to maintain a safe campus environment. 

Faculties can also request for larger classrooms to ensure safety while encouraging more students to show up. 

The Georgia Department of Public Health suggests students who recently traveled to stay home or quarantine for two weeks. The International Student and Scholar Services is prepared to help any international students who have travel concerns.

Amid the pandemic, Georgia State continues to work to provide a safe campus and high-quality academics. There are now three testing sites on the downtown campus located in Dahlberg Hall, Patton Hall and the 75 Piedmont building. 

The Perimeter campuses have one testing site each. They all welcome every Georgia State student, faculty and staff to take COVID-19 tests, regardless if they have symptoms or not.