At the start of the 2022 spring semester, the Oklahoma Christian University COVID-19 Campus Readiness team informed the student body, faculty and staff of new coronavirus guidelines. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established new guidelines with the rise of the omicron variant.
The announcement was made on Jan. 3, giving students a week to present a negative coronavirus test upon check-in. This testing requirement posed questions, concerns and trials with the testing shortage to find a testing site.
Senior Jackie Kim is quarantined at home and said she was stressed and exhausted from searching for a coronavirus test.
“The shortage of tests has given me quite a bit of anxiety,” Kim said. “I had a test I scheduled a week in advance and later realized I needed to reschedule and nothing was available for another week.”
Kim said she still felt the process was necessary for Oklahoma Christian students.
“I appreciated the fact that Oklahoma Christian wanted their students to return to campus with negative test results,” Kim said. “But I think that it would have been less stressful on the students if they were given more of a notice that a negative test was required to check in.”
Chief Academic Officer, Jeff McCormack, said the administration was constantly looking for testing options for students.
“At Oklahoma Christian, we were very fortunate to have easy access to testing for the last couple of semesters,” McCormack said. “It was a challenge at a number of places but testing was available but you had to work at it and I acknowledge that, which was a challenge for everyone.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Health provided coronavirus rapid tests without cost to Oklahoma Christian as a public service over the course of just over a year. Due to the shortage of tests, they have discontinued the service.
COVID Clinical Officer, Kym Langford, said more than 100 students tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.
“I am super thankful we had students, faculty and staff get tested before school started. We had a lot of positives,” Langford said. “A lot of them have very minor symptoms. It helped prevent the spread and I think we started the year in a better spot.”
McCormack was a part of the decision-making process for Oklahoma Christian’s coronavirus guidelines. He said they are in communication with the Oklahoma State Department of Health in search of alternatives to the testing situation.
“It [coronavirus tests] helps for the immediate less than the later on,” McCormack said. “The negative test is just a snapshot of what is happening right now and it is based upon having a negative test and trying to minimize the number of cases on campus during that time where we expect to have the peak of COVID-19.”
The CDC released new coronavirus guidelines on Dec. 27. Langford said the guidelines could change in the next couple of weeks.
“It’s hard because science really evolves all the time, so I think it is important to go with the scientists who have been studying this [coronavirus], who have studied a lot of diseases,” Langford said. “We base a lot of what we do on the CDC guidelines.”
McCormack said they wanted to go to the CDC, first before they adopted any new guidelines for the campus.
“As we look into this semester and look over the past couple of years, we are at a point now where we need to recognize this is part of our new normal,” McCormack said. “With the omicron variant, it certainly suggests and supports the argument that we need to be making that transition at some point.”
Oklahoma Christian will continue to research and provide information for new coronavirus updates and testing opportunities. Information about coronavirus testing can be found here.