WSU to begin mandated COVID-19 testing

Sophia Sailer, news editor

Beginning Oct. 25, students who have not provided evidence of immunization will default to the option of submitting weekly COVID-19 test results. Students can upload proof of vaccination at any time online. When the vaccination attestation process is complete, no further evidence is required unless exposed to COVID occurs.

The percentage of Winona State University students who have had at least a single dose of the COVID vaccine currently sits at 72% right now.

The Vice President for Enrollment Management & Student Life at Winona State, Denise McDowell, talked about how the school will manage this process.

“The process is governed by ongoing monitoring of student data by vetted contact points to determine which students have met the criteria outlined in the Minnesota State Colleges and University System Office mandates. WSU will test students at all points of this process, providing timely guidance to ensure individuals meet the necessary criteria,” McDowell said.

McDowell further talked about the consequences that students could receive if they do not comply with COVID testing.

“A pattern of not completing a test and providing testing data through Student eServices will result in a referral to the Student Conduct and Citizenship Office. Those students living in campus housing who will not participate in testing nor provide COVID vaccination information will not be able to return to on-campus living spring semester,” McDowell said.

McDowell also mentioned how student athletes will be affected by these new rules.

“Student athletes that do not comply will not be eligible to participate in sports, clubs or intramural activities where these mandates apply,” McDowell said.

McDowell also talked about why this testing mandate was created so late into the fall semester.

“On August 18, the system office directed colleges and universities in the MN State System to require COVID-19 vaccination confirmation or weekly COVID-19 test for designated groups effective Oct. 4, 2021,” McDowell said. McDowell continued this conversation by saying, ‘To gather the necessary documentation, monitor infection rates in MN and time for campuses to develop the infrastructure to respond,’ was what created this requirement delay, giving Winona State the time to be able to implement the requirement.

One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, spoke on their nervousness regarding the testing mandate.

“I don’t believe most people who opt out of getting vaccinated will abide by the rules. This may be my preconceived notions about the political views of those who don’t get vaccinated, but I’m not hopeful,” they said.

They also voiced their support of having a campus-wide COVID vaccine mandate.

Shelby Wissing, a second-year student studying in the biology-allied health major program, confirmed her agreement with the campus COVID vaccine mandate.

“I feel that if we want to go back to a fully normal college experience then we should make vaccinating required. I know some students on campus that won’t ever plan to get vaccinated due to reasons such as they feel like the vaccine came too soon and/or that the pandemic is overrated,” Wissing said.

Jay Dugan, a first-year student studying social work, also spoke on the subject.

“I believe [the campus vaccine mandate is] what needs to be done to get us out of the pandemic, but for Winona specifically, it would be nice to know all the people around me are safe to be around with a mask and the only way we can do that is getting vaccinated now and wearing our mask[s] until the vaccination is required or people get it willingly,” Dugan said.

Karen Johnson, dean of students, said the university will only encourage the Winona State community to get vaccinated.

“We would never require anyone to get the vaccine, but we are certainly encouraging everyone to do that,” Johnson said.