Opinion: Suffolk’s COVID-19 testing sites are inconvenient – to say the least

For those of you who have not been on campus, Suffolk University had two COVID-19 testing sites: one in the second-floor lounge of the Sawyer Building and one in a second-floor classroom in the Sargent Building. 

They have recently closed the Sawyer location which means everyone going on campus now has to get tested in Sargent. This has become an inconvenience. 

(I understand this may get confusing because of Suffolk’s innate skill of naming buildings with names that start with ‘S.’) 

Most of the people I know that go on campus would go to the testing site located in Sawyer.

I thought it was efficient and thankfully, usually empty. You don’t want many people around when you are taking off your mask – especially in the area where COVID tests are being conducted.

Then, on Oct. 5, the Sawyer site was quietly shut down. One day students would go to make a testing appointment on the CoVerified app and suddenly there was no option to get tested at Sawyer anymore.

Many people I spoke to hoped it was just a temporary technology error.

Students were not explicitly told about the closing of the Sawyer testing site until three days after it closed in the “COVID-19 Update for CAS/SBS Students” email about the long weekend. 

While it isn’t the largest issue with this testing site, I will complain about how Sargent is the most inconvenient building they could have chosen. It is away from the heart of campus. Most students I have talked to said they don’t ever walk down that way. 

I loved being able to already be in Sawyer, head downstairs to get tested, and then head home. 

Going out of my way to get tested now is just more of a pain than anything. And spending more time walking in the wind and rain last Tuesday was not ideal.

The biggest issue though is I felt safer at the Sawyer testing site. The Sargent second-floor classroom is narrow and doesn’t allow for much social distancing. There are several people in this tight space removing their masks to blow and swab their noses. 

I went to get a test and right after I walked into the room, a group of about seven people entered behind me. A class must have just gotten out or something. Today, as I write this, there was a line out the door.

There was nothing comforting about a large group of people appearing in the same small room. I now stress out when I see large crowds when I’m watching pre-COVID movies, so you can imagine how I feel when I see groups of people standing around waiting to get tested.

With this singular testing site, more people in the university will all be converging on one spot. Personally, my classes are mainly in Sawyer. Wouldn’t you want to decrease the traffic between buildings? 

With everyone having only one option, there is less availability for the Suffolk community to be tested. I know someone who opted to wait and get tested because before noon the only open testing time was 6 p.m.

With the world seeming to fall apart but school starting up again, I was glad Suffolk had taken the initiative to test those coming to campus. Now it feels inadequate.

Why didn’t they keep the Sawyer testing site? Is Sargent just more convenient for the university’s higher-ups in 73? Is it because Sargent is Suffolk’s fanciest building that could catch the eye of new students? 

It is probably a money issue. If money is the issue, students are still paying enormous amounts of money to attend Zoom University. Why not keep the additional testing site open?

If the plan was to lower the number of nurses on campus (and the number of nurses they would have to pay), fine! But still keep both testing sites open! It is hard to comfortably social distance when there are about ten people in a narrow room. 

Suffolk, please consider opening up a second testing site again, or at least explaining why you closed the Sawyer one in the first place. Maybe I’ll agree with you.

Follow Emily on Twitter @emrodev.