Students respond to Iowa State’s spring semester COVID-19 testing

Iowa State students share their opinions on the testing plan for spring semester.

Iowa State students share their opinions on the testing plan for spring semester.

Mallory Tope

This semester, Iowa State changed their COVID-19 move-in testing to random sampling, leaving some students unhappy with the new testing.  

In the fall, Iowa State required all students living on campus to be tested for COVID-19 before they were allowed to move in. 

“As it did in August, the university is requiring COVID-19 testing for new-to-the-residence-system students before they receive their room or apartment keys,” according to an Iowa State announcement

Iowa State did not require students moving back into dorms to be tested this semester. Instead, the university turned to random sampling. 

The university required COVID-19 testing during Jan. 11-29 for a random sampling of approximately 5,000 students who live on campus or are members of a sorority or fraternity.

The method of the random sampling was developed by an Iowa State statistics faculty team last summer to project the positivity rate during August move-in days. 

“Sampling is weighted based on the positivity rate in the county of each student’s home zip code to increase the probability that students coming from areas with higher infection rates will be selected in the sample. Student names are not included in any of the data,” an Iowa State announcement said. 

With an almost two-month break, many students traveled home for the holidays or had the opportunity to go on a vacation. 

“ISU not testing students before moving back in was very irresponsible,” said Ashlyn Dunn, a sophomore in political science. “Students traveled home and could have been exposed in their own communities, and many students went on Winter Break vacations.” 

Serena Murphy, a sophomore in psychology, also said she finds it problematic to not have everyone be tested before returning to campus because some students went on Winter Break vacations and visited friends and family over the holidays. 

Some students are worried about the effects that not testing more students will have on this semester and classes. 

“Not testing everyone will have harmful effects because when cases do inevitably begin rising again, it will be even harder to pinpoint the exact source,” Dunn said. “I think they chose to just do selective testing to save money.” 

Although there are not many students in quarantine and isolation, that could easily change in a matter of days with many classes being in person this semester. 

Nathan Lewis, a sophomore in biological systems engineering, said since more classes are in person this semester, less testing doesn’t make sense. 

“It seems to me that Iowa State cares more about saving money on COVID tests than they do about students’ health,” Lewis said.

Some students said they would rather Iowa State not have done random sample testing but instead test all students living on campus prior to move in. 

“It will be interesting to see how many positive cases there are in two weeks,” Lewis said. 

It won’t be certain whether or not this testing will have a positive or negative effect until several weeks. 

During fall move-in, 8,094 students were tested. Of those students, 175 tested positive, according to the Iowa State fall COVID-19 release

Iowa State will update COVID-19 results weekly on the COVID-19 dashboard.