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Ohio State Pushes Students To Get COVID-19 Tests Before Labor Day Weekend

Kelly Sprangel sits outside Ohio State's residence halls in August 2020 as students returned to campus for the first time after campus was closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Adora Namigadde
Ohio State biological engineering student Kelly Sprangel was one of the off-campus students randomly selected to be tested for COVID-19.

Ohio State University is asking students with travel plans over Labor Day weekend to get tested for COVID-19 before heading out.

In a letter, Ohio State president Kristina Johnson said students can be tested without an appointment at the Jesse Owens North Recreation Center until 5:30 p.m. Friday and between 8-11:30 a.m. Saturday.

"In the meantime, you should also act as though you are positive and wear your mask, practice physical distancing and take all other safety precautions," Johnson wrote.

Biological engineering student Kelly Sprangel found herself in the mix. She is an off-campus student who was randomly selected to be tested at the site.

“The process was pretty easy," Sprangel explains. "You just went in and they gave you a sample kit and they gave you directions on how to do it. You just spit into a tube and then you walked out and that was it.”

Johnson says the school will return results as soon as possible to students who test positive, so those students can factor the results into their travel plans. That's quicker than the standard wait time for results, which is two to three days.

“I think it’s pretty reasonable. I think they’re doing a pretty good job getting the information out with the whole COVID dashboard thing,” Sprangel says. “It’s great that they’re getting the information out and sharing it.”

Ohio State students line up for COVID-19 tests before the Labor Day weekend on Sept. 4, 2020.
Credit Adora Namigadde / WOSU
Ohio State students line up for COVID-19 tests before the Labor Day weekend on Sept. 4, 2020.

As of Friday, Ohio State's coronavirus dashboardreports that 1,052 students and 22 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. In the most recent 24-hour testing period on September 1, the positivity rate for on-campus students was 3.34%, while the rate for off-campus students rose to 10.83%. 

Newton Burris Jr. was also randomly selected to be tested for COVID-19. He’s a fifth year student studying computer and information science, and plans to stay on campus during the long weekend.

“I’m studying because school’s hard,” Burris laughs.

He’s supportive of the school’s testing efforts around campus. “I think they’re pretty proactive with it,” Burris says. “At least that’s good.”

Government officials and public health experts have expressed concerns that the Labor Day weekend will result in the further spread of COVID-19 because of people traveling and attending large gatherings, similar to what happened during the Memorial Day and July 4 holidays.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.