Southern granted $25 million for PPE sanitation equipment


Madeline S. Scharf Reporter

Weekly COVID-19 testing has become a staple for students living on campus. While the students can get tests without paying out of pocket, testing is not free.

According to Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree, each test is not cheap. “Griffin Health is providing these tests,” said Tyree. “I believe the cost is $106 per test.”

Based on Southern’s website, there are 960 students living on campus who need to be tested. Without considering commuters, this is a weekly bill of around a quarter of a million dollars. How is this bill afforded?

“The state of Connecticut is covering the cost of our surveillance testing for residential and commuter students,” said Tyree via e-mail interview. According to the State of Connecticut Office of Policy and Management, in April 2020, $230 million dollars was dedicated to testing in the state. In this fund, colleges were granted $25 million for PPE, sanitization equipment, and other non-testing related pandemic costs.

While regular students are covered of by the state, there is another group of students who must go in for additional testing.

The university has kept the athletics department running during the 2020-2021 fall and spring semesters. This means games continue to run and teams still regularly gather for practice.

Giovanni D’Onofrio, the assistant athletics director of fiscal affairs, spoke on why athletes are tested more. “We have to follow our local conference protocol. The students are tested once a week and less than 72 hours after a contest with another school.”

With all this testing, the athletics department is looking to ensure students’ safety while continuing the program. It is nearly impossible to stay the recommended 6 feet from one another, so additional testing is a necessity to keep every team safe.

However, athletics testing differs from regular testing. “The testing is through Yale,” D’Onofrio said, “and the payment comes from the student Athletics Department.” The cost of testing through Yale is a staggering difference, with this test only costing $25. However, the bill is no longer for the government, but for the school’s athletics department itself.

Some may question why Southern would keep the athletics program open if it incurs this additional cost, however, men’s basketball player Isaiah Boissard feels that it is best to keep the program open and alive. “The Athletics Department is why I came to Southern,” said Boissard. “I have made so many connections through it. Lifelong friends, amazing coaches, it means a lot.”

Boissard is proud of the care Southern has put into its consistent testing. “Weekly testing keeps us as safe as possible,” said Boissard. Financial cost is less important in his eyes. Boissard said, “If testing means people can stay on campus and for us (student athletes) to do things as a team? That’s worth the cost.”

Regular students also find the weekly testing a comfort. Sociology major Rain Iaccarino, a freshman, has found the testing a huge positive. “I support it,” said Iaccarino. “I like it because it lowers the risk of having a COVID outbreak.”

The lack of cost to students is also a positive.

“I appreciate that it is free,” Iaccarino said. If testing were not free, Iaccarino says it would be difficult to convince others to pay for the weekly procedure, which at the $106 cost would quickly wrack up a high bill.”

Photo credit: Roma Rositani

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