During the Winter 2021 Semester, BYU–Hawaii implemented saliva-based COVID-19 testing, known as Seasider Testing. Since testing began in December, Nomi Health’s marketing lead said they have issued around 20,000 tests and have recorded 36 positive cases during Winter 2021.
Manda Nielson, a senior from Utah studying exercise and sport science, and Nomi Health’s marketing lead, said, “Currently, there's only two active cases that have been recorded."
On March 17, President John S.K. Kauwe III announced BYUH would return to in-person classes for the Fall 2021 Semester. He said, “We chose to create a testing program here at BYU–Hawaii to find a way to balance bringing back our students and the campus back to normal life, while maintaining the safety that is necessary for our students, employees and surrounding community.”
Video by BYU–Hawaii Media Productions
Laura Tevaga, assistant to President Kauwe, said there are 1,000 students living on campus and 500 students living off campus. This means only 50 percent of students are back on campus in comparison to the 2,962 students currently enrolled in classes. This means testing is crucial to keep people safe and in order to welcome more students back to campus, she added.
With BYUH planning to reopen in the fall of 2021, Nielson said Seasider Safe testing will continue through the Spring 2021 Semester to ensure everyone’s safety and wellbeing.
As Hawaii enters tier three of the COVID-19 Reopening Strategy, she said people should expect to see more things open up on campus and eventually get back to normal life. Nielson said continuing to get tested weekly and following all precautions will allow for more openings on campus.
According to Ailana Meyer, the field operations director for Nomi Health, Seasider Safe has one of the most impactful roles in stopping the spread of COVID-19 because it tests people who are asymptomatic. She explained the BYUH Health Center takes care of the outwardly sick patients.
Meyer shared, “Our testing program is to capture the asymptomatic people so we can stop this spread right away. We can find out where the close contacts are and impose a quarantine on them.”
Meyer said Seasider Safe is here to keep the BYUH ohana safe and to give everyone an enjoyable, personable experience. “The biggest focus on our students and medic staff side is just having a continuous improvement mindset. Since it's a mandatory testing program, patient experience is our priority.”