Dozens of St. Francis College students and employees – along with members of the broader Brooklyn Heights community – received free COVID-19 tests this week, thanks to a collaboration between the College and Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), a national non-profit whose work includes increasing access to such tests in New York City.
Health professionals from CORE administered nasal-swab tests in an outdoor tent set up on the sidewalk in front of campus, from noon to 4 pm on August 25th. The tests cost participants nothing and were available to anyone, no matter their affiliation with the College. While individuals could reserve testing time slots in advance, walk-in's were welcomed as well.
"I think the biggest reason that it is important to [be at St. Francis College] is that people who are affected by COVID [at] the highest rate right now...are from ages 20 to 29," said Michael Ogundare, CORE Resource Manager. "A lot of people at a young age...don't realize COVID is really real and affecting a lot of us."
Earlier this summer, St. Francis College unveiled its plans for a phased re-opening of its Brooklyn Heights campus for the fall
semester, called Back to Brooklyn. Starting this September, the College intends to hold some in-person classes on campus, in addition to providing students remote instruction. Anyone entering SFC buildings will need to adhere to new rules to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including completing a health-screening questionnaire before entry and wearing masks and social distancing once inside.
"St. Francis College takes very seriously our role as stewards for the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and that responsibility extends to the broader community of which we're part," said Linda Werbel,SFC Vice President for Government and Community Relations. "COVID testing plays a critical role in the public health management of this pandemic, and we're so grateful to CORE that we can help extend availability of those tests to our Terrier family and to our neighbors here in Brooklyn."
According to Werbel, while St. Francis College strongly encourages all its students and employees to be tested for COVID-19, it requires tests for those students who will live in its residence halls, are members of athletics teams or come from countries other than the United States.
"I think it's extremely important to have this event. Number one, because young people need to get tested. They are at risk of getting the virus and being asymptomatic. You need to get tested to ensure that everyone stays safe," said Michael Conlon '21, an economics major who serves as President of SFC Student Government and was among the students tested at the event.
Representatives from the United States Census were also on hand, to encourage participants to complete their census questionnaires. Attendees could register to vote there too.
St. Francis College is working to schedule additional free COVID-19 testing events on campus in September.