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BYU–Hawaii students and faculty: Getting tested is a responsible way to spread aloha, not COVID-19

A man wearing a yellow plastic suit over his clothes sits typing at a laptop and wearing a mask and gloves while two others in the background wearing similar the same medical uniforms type at laptop stations while a girl wearing a black and white stripped shirt stands behind him.

BYU–Hawaii has implemented saliva-based PCR COVID-19 testing, known as Seasider Testing, which is free and available for BYUH ohana. Students and faculty shared missing weekly testing has consequences such as withheld pay or talking with a supervisor, but getting tested will help the school return to possibly holding normal classes for the Fall 2021 Semester.

Getting back to normal

Manda Nielson, a senior from Utah majoring in exercise and sports science, and Nomi Health’s marketing lead, shared, “The goal is to have all students return to in-person classes by fall 2021. In order to have that happen, we have to make sure that Hawaii’s number stays under control.”

Nielson explained that getting tested and doing your part of keeping the community safe will help the school continue to reopen. “Testing is ensuring the students, faculty and staff’s safety because there's so many people especially with our age group who are asymptomatic.” She said this is also a way for others to worry wondering if they are positive or not because each week they get tested.

BYU–Hawaii partnered with Nomi Health, a healthcare company, to allow weekly on-campus testing that is requiring for all faculty and staff and BYUH ohana who study or use on-campus resources.

Doing your part

A Nomi Health student employee, Cannon Curtis, a senior from Arizona studying history education, said getting tested is a way of spreading aloha to all people on the island by lowering the spread of COVID-19.

Kate McLellan, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Sciences, shared participating in the testing is a responsible choice to help everyone, not just the individual taking the test. She urged students and staff to change their attitudes toward testing.

“The attitude about Seasider Testing should be like the attitude about face masks. It’s really not about you, it’s about keeping other people safe,” McLellan explained.

What to expect at Seasider Testing

According to student workers at Seasider Testing, the process is fairly simple and fast. The check-in process is as easy as showing up with a valid BYUH ID and checking in by confirming your email and date of birth.

Participants are given a vial and a bag to collect their saliva sample. Then, participants are asked to spit in the vial and give the bag and vial to the staff. Results will be sent back within a day or two, Curtis explained.

McLellan described the process as “really easy. It’s probably the easiest way to get tested because you’re just spitting in the tube. No pain at all.”

Consequences for failing to get tested

The consequences for failing to attend weekly testing can result in potential contact with the dean, pay being withheld, or even expulsion from BYUH, McLellan explained.

The BYUH website says for faculty and staff, missing a test for the first time will lead to a reminder email from their supervisor and possibly a loss of pay. The second time they can face other disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment. Students who miss for the first time will receive a verbal warning. If the students miss a second time, they may be expelled.

Welcoming experience

Two women and a man wearing masks sit at a table with laptops and water bottles with a hall and a gym behind them.

Nielson said, at Seasider Testing, BYUH students, faculty and staff are greeted with a kind spirit and open arms. She explained it is an enjoyable, professional and welcoming experience.

Curtis added, “We’re friendly and do a good job every day. It's a really positive environment I’d say." Curtis said he has been working for Seasider Testing for only three weeks but said working there has helped him connect with people. He added, “It’s been amazing to interact with all of the students and community members who come in and get tested. … It’s a very people-oriented job.”