Higher education institutions should receive COVID-19 rapid tests

The free tests provided by California are currently only available to K-12 schools


In 2022 K-12 schools in California have access to free COVID-19 rapid tests. Students and staff at higher education institutions should have the same access to rapid tests. (Photo by Heather Amberson)

Having rapid tests for COVID-19 available at colleges and any other higher educational institutions is vital to keeping everyone safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19, which can hopefully finally put an end to the pandemic and allow everyone to return to a more normal life.

According to testing information on the American River College website, K-12 schools have access to free COVID-19 rapid tests from the state of California while higher education institutions do not. 

Everyone should have easy access to free COVID-19 tests, and more specifically rapid tests, especially since we are going into year three of the pandemic. 

It is important for every educational institution to have access to rapid tests because there are hundreds to thousands of people gathering on campuses. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, 96% of infections on college campuses could be prevented if routine screening testing is done, and social distancing and masking is in place. The website also says that the number of people and duration of time together increases the risk of COVID-19 spread. 

So, students and staff on school campuses are at a greater risk of COVID-19 because they are around a high number of people every day. 

With the Los Rios Community College District announcing that they are lifting the mask mandate on March 14, it is even more important for people to have access to tests with quick results.

Rapid results would ease students and staff the stress of waiting multiple days to see if they actually have COVID-19 or not.

With college students exercising independence, the mask mandates being lifted and unvaccinated students and staff being on campus, having rapid tests readily available are really important to limit the spread of COVID-19 and stop any possible major outbreaks. 

 Students in college can largely choose to do whatever they please, which can lead to more people possibly being exposed to COVID-19 than younger students who can’t just go anywhere they want to. 

If unvaccinated people are allowed on campus and don’t wear a mask, there could be a greater possibility of spreading COVID-19, so they should have rapid tests to take that can get results quickly. 

According to the ARC website, students and staff with exemptions have to get tested 48 to 72 hours before going to campus, but if they had rapid tests to take, the process would be much smoother and easier. 

Having rapid tests will allow students and staff to miss as little time as possible if they are possibly exposed to COVID-19. Having quick results will allow students to get the education they need and not miss much class time if they have to take a test. 

The availability of rapid tests at colleges would be huge because students and staff wouldn’t have to stress about trying to find a place to get tested that has both appointments and rapid tests available. 

K-12 schools already have access to free COVID-19 rapid tests from the state of California, so California should make rapid tests readily available to higher education institutions as well.