Student Opinions In Response to Mass Testing at KCL

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Photo credit: Robert Lamb

In a statement sent out on 12 October, King’s announced end of term Covid-19 testing for students. Roar spoke to King’s students regarding their opinions about the same. 

KCL’s Vice President & Principal of Education, Professor Nicolas Philips sent out a statement on 12 October regarding mass student testing, which is set to begin in two weeks’ time. “We are aiming to introduce end of term testing from Monday 30 November to both students and staff who have been coming onto campus or living in a King’s residence”, the statement said. Testing will be carried out in the utilisation of self-administered testing kits, which could produce results in just an hour without having to send the tests into laboratories for further examination. Further information about bookings and operations will be released shortly, so students will be well informed of how to get a test on campus by the end of the “student travel window” on 9 December.

Responding to the sudden release of such news, there has been a flow of discussions and arguments across the wide student community. While many see mass testing for university students as a constructive act to the prevention of virus transmission, there are others who show concerns and uncertainties about the practicality of the test.

Matthew, a third year chemistry student, studies remotely at his Westminster residence. He says, “Unless I start showing symptoms or I am asked to isolate by trace and trace. I’m not getting one [a test]”. As a part-time pharmacy advisor at Boots, he sees how resources such as flu jabs are limited: where there was uptake, numbers started to run thin. “I’ll just follow the guidelines but I’m not going to take one unnecessarily. There are limited numbers in this country, it seems almost a selfish thing to do, and I don’t want to be wasteful. But of course, it’s not a straight out refusal”. 

Xinfan Guo, a computer science student in her second year, is inclined to think there is risk involved with on-campus testing centres and the chosen testing methods. “My general viewpoint is simple. I don’t think there’s a pressing need to take a test on campus when I’m well assured that I’ve been in proper adherence to government regulations and measures over the past few weeks in London”. She continues in thought, “I truly appreciate the provision of student testing at KCL, which certainly gives assurances to many who longed to go home for Christmas but feared for the risks that may accompany them when travelling. However, I don’t see this to be worth it when it’s highly possible to get infected just by going out for a test”. 

Conversely, Aditi Mudgal, a first year medical student, believes that testing is a necessary precaution. “It’s a good plan, with the necessary precautions it could be done well, but there are a lot of pot-holes if it is not done with good administration.

“In practice, there may be some problems especially since some universities are known for having bad admin, so I can see how that could be a problem. Also, I can see in London how there would be a problem because the London campuses are known for being so small, so even if it’s staggered you have a lot of students in the same place. I think it’s a nice thought and it’s important that we get to see our families for mental health reasons, but I think practically there will be a lot of drawbacks.”

Student opinion appears mixed. While some believe that mass testing is an unnecessary use of supplies, others view it as a necessary step to take before the winter holidays. The College may need to take notice of these opinions to ensure that testing is carried out safely and securely as KCL aims to complete mass testing of the students before the peak holiday period.

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