Test Iowa site comes to UNI campus


Gabi Cummings

UNI brings a Test Iowa site to campus for students and staff.


Amid the rising COVID-19 cases on campus and in the state of Iowa, UNI has decided to enhance their testing capabilities and bring a Test Iowa site to campus to serve students and staff.

The testing site opened on Tuesday within the UNI Student Health Center, and is intended for student, faculty and staff use only. It will remain open for the majority of winter break, although it will be closed for certain periods surrounding the holidays, when all university operations close.

Northern Iowa Student Government President Elle Boeding wrote in an email to the Northern Iowan that she is “very excited” about the Test Iowa site coming to campus.

“It will be very valuable to our community to have increased testing capabilities,” she wrote. “The potential for more accurate reporting data, more people to get tested, and a free option for testing are all very promising. I think it will benefit students, faculty, and staff greatly. The option to get more people tested on campus creates a more accessible system — which is always a good thing!”

The site opens just as Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds has decided to extend the State Public Health Emergency Declaration for another 30 days in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19. Iowa has been in the media recently for having one of the top highest percentages of confirmed cases statewide. Counties that have been hit the hardest include Black Hawk, Johnson and Story counties, which are all the homes of Iowa’s state schools: University of Northern Iowa, University of Iowa and Iowa State.

The governor’s proclamation, released Tuesday, restates many of the procedures already in place; however, the state now requires businesses to enforce that everyone is socially distancing and to be in groups of eight people or fewer (if not from the same household). Reynolds also stated that she believes it’s best for everyone to wear masks, especially at social events like weddings, parties, conventions and sports, but she has not made a state-wide mask mandate so far.

To receive a test from Test Iowa on the UNI campus, students, staff and faculty should visit the Student Health Clinic website and click on the UNI Test Iowa icon on the left-hand side. They will complete a survey to receive a QR code and then call the Student Health Clinic COVID-19 hotline to schedule a testing appointment.

“Having a Test Iowa site here is going to be a good thing because the Student Health Center originally had limited accessibility to get a test,” said Kaitlin Kerska, a second-year mathematics teaching major. “Since I was exposed multiple times,  I decided to stay off campus and go fully online for the rest of the semester because I felt like that was my best option.”

UNI has stated that there are plenty of tests and appointments available at the Student Health Center. The main benefit of adding the UNI Test Iowa site is the more comprehensive set of criteria to meet requirements for a test.

The Student Health Center follows the testing criteria outlined by the Iowa Department of Public Health, which require students to either be showing symptoms and not have another diagnosis or have spent more than 15 minutes within six feet of someone with a positive test. Test Iowa guidelines are broader and can allow more campus community members to be tested even if they do not meet IDPH guidelines.

Being a part of NISG as well as the COVID-19 Response Team, Boeding has been involved in the university’s pandemic planning since the start of the semester. Throughout all the struggles, she remains hopeful and believes that UNI is doing everything they can to finish the semester off successfully while “trying to balance the ever-changing flow of information.”

“As new updates come out, keeping our campus community informed of new guidelines is of the utmost importance,” she wrote. “A clear flow of information is crucial in terms of maintaining the health and safety of students, and in order to finish the semester successfully.”

Boeding also emphasized the importance of mental health and self-care as students finish the semester.

“While student safety is at the forefront of my mind, ensuring our students are also making connections inside the classroom and out has also been a major challenge,” she wrote. “With the increased social distancing and more virtual connections, many of our students have been struggling with their mental health. Ensuring they have access to the services they need to be successful has been one of the main priorities for me this year.”

For more information on the Test Iowa site and campus COVID-19 testing, visit health.uni.edu/. For mental health resources, visit counseling.uni.edu/.