Let’s be honest, testing works

Alek Fleury, Managing Editor

James Madison University is a school in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

To others, the school is a “ra ra” type football kind of school, known for its purple colors and the statue of a tiny James Madison standing 5 feet 4 inches. But to me, it’s where my brother goes to school.

It’s also where 1,144 students contracted COVID, wreaking havoc not only on the city of Harrisonburg but also the hometowns and households of these students where they are now returning.

When comparing UVM’s handling of this pandemic to other schools, it is evident that we have done a much better job.

Out of the 31,263 test results received, since Aug. 7, 19 students have tested positive.

Now compare that to JMU which conducted no testing at all. It ended in utter disaster.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious diseases, virtually attended a press conference with Vermont Governor Phil Scott Sept. 15.

“If we do what you’ve [Vermont] been doing in the rest of the country…we can not only get through the fall and winter, but we can come out on the other end better off than we went in,” Fauci said.

JMU’s student newspaper, The Breeze, wrote in a staff editorial that the University took precautions, but it wasn’t enough.

“Yes, people were wearing masks. Yes, every other chair was roped off in classrooms. Yes, there was hand sanitizer everywhere. Yes, there were cleaning blocks,” the piece reads. “Despite all these efforts, the virus still spread.”

One of the students who tested positive as a result of JMU’s return was my brother.

To be cautious, my mother bought him two nights in a hotel in New Jersey before he was allowed to move into my parent’s home.

He got tested as soon as he showed up at the hotel and tested negative.

He then moved into my parents’ house.

The next day, he heard from a friend who he had been with in Virginia that she tested positive. My brother again got tested and it came back negative.

That day was my grandmother’s 80th birthday so they had dinner with her. The next day, my brother said he couldn’t taste or smell anything.

He got tested one more time and this time it was positive.

My family and my grandmother are getting tested and we are awaiting the results.

However, my mind can’t help but harken back to when we were first sent home last academic year and I spent so many weeks not leaving my New Jersey dead-end street as some of my friends’ own grandparents passed away.

And now I sit here, writing this staff editorial at my desk in the Cynic office, wondering what will happen to my family.

We applaud UVM’s testing policy and applaud the decision to continue testing into November.

That being said, what worries us are the consistent drop offs in the number of students getting tested these past two weeks. On Sept. 10, results from UVM’s second testing cycle indicated that 3,427 fewer students were tested than the week before, according to a Sept. 10 Cynic article. This trend followed us into the third week as well.

Some of this most likely can be attributed to students leaving UVM, but you can’t help but think, based on the volume of these numbers, that some students have been skipping their weekly test. UVM’s testing has worked, but that success could be flipped in a matter of days if students stop showing up.


Go get tested. It could be the difference between life and death.