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Breaking: College will now provide PCR COVID-19 tests to any student who requests one, regardless of exposure or symptoms


COVID-19 PCR tests will be available for any Grinnell College student, employee or family member to request, the College announced in an all-campus email on Tuesday, Sept. 21. The tests will be self-administered, but will not return results until sent to the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville, IA. Students will now be able to access a test without presenting symptoms or having been exposed.

Tests will be free for Iowa residents. The email did not specify whether tests would be free for non-Iowa residents.

This announcement comes after the College was approved as a Test Iowa Pick-Up site. Test Iowa is a joint-partnership between the Iowa Department of Public Health and the State Hygienic Lab.

Facilities Management will transport kits to the State Hygienic Lab in Coralville, IA, Monday through Saturday.

“This service will greatly reduce the turnaround time for test results and make PCR tests a more convenient and timely option for our campus community,” wrote Heather Cox, director of emergency management and risk mitigation, in the email.

Prior to this announcement, students were directed to go to Student Health and Wellness (SHAW) to report symptoms, and would be tested by a nurse if approved for a test. Students were instructed to get tested only if symptomatic or exposed to another individual who tested positive for COVID-19, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

PCR testing detects genetic material specific to the virus and is considered by the Center for Disease Control to be more reliable than rapid testing for asymptomatic individuals.

To request a kit from the College, students should visit Student Affairs on the 3rd floor of the Joe Rosenfield Center (JRC) from Monday through Friday. Students can also contact the Test Iowa website for direct shipment to their mailbox.

The drop-box for PCR tests will be at the Information Desk in the JRC. The first pick-up will begin on Sept. 23.

If the results are positive, students should contact SHAW immediately at 641-269-3230, or Campus Safety at 641-269-4600.

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Nina Baker, Staff Writer
Nina Baker is a fourth-year Russian major with a Russian, Central European and Eurasian Studies concentration from Lakeville, Minnesota. When she's not reporting for The Scarlet & Black, she loves taking long walks, reading, and learning foreign languages.
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