New Rounds of COVID-19 Testing

Fordham director of University Health Services clarifies who gets tests and who pays



University Health Services has announced a new testing policy in which all on-campus students must be tested once per month.


Director of University Health Services (UHS) Maureen Keown announced a new monthly COVID-19 screening test requirement for the fall 2020 semester in an Oct. 1 email. All on-campus students and faculty must complete their third screening test by Oct. 23, and a fourth test by Nov. 20.

The new policy announcement comes within days of Instagram posts from @letstalkaboutitfordham that show anonymous messages claiming inconsistent testing policies and attempting to clarify testing policies. These social media posts have raised concerns about the spread of misinformation at Fordham.

Cam Dasher, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’22, said she heard about students being turned away from testing sites. “I heard people were getting rejected because they got tested seven days before,” Dasher said. “I’ve been tested three times and was not rejected, so I think it depends who is working the registration table in the testing center.”

When asked to clarify Fordham’s testing policy outside of monthly screenings, Keown said that the university is currently “focused on getting students into the next round of testing; and on diagnostic testing, and testing in cases of possible exposure.”

“We are currently not accommodating weekly nor on-demand testing, as we are running at or above our weekly testing capacity.” Maureen Keown, director of UHS

“While Fordham has not officially capped nor limited testing at any number,” Keown said, “we are currently not accommodating weekly nor on-demand testing, as we are running at or above our weekly testing capacity.”

Elizabeth Cini, FCLC ’21, said that her confidence in Fordham’s testing program is “in the middle,” but that it’s the conduct of her fellow students that makes her feel safe on campus.

“Checking everyone once a month is pretty good,” Cini said. “A lot of my confidence is more in the student body. Like, knowing that my peers take this seriously and are practicing safe socialization and behavior.”

Keown said that the university covers the cost of screening and surveillance tests, but there are some cases in which students may have to pay for their own test. Sick students who take diagnostic tests through UHS will have to pay for their tests, and be reimbursed by their insurance company later.  

“I am worried that Fordham is mishandling COVID testing.”Jordan Arnold, FCLC ’22

“There are other rapid tests that UHS has on hand for individuals who are sick,” Keown said. “There is a charge for these tests and the student can print a receipt and submit to their insurance. We may also use Labcorp and Quest for symptomatic students on weekends and holidays and these tests are sent to the laboratory and billed to the insurance from the laboratory.”

In a call on Oct. 11, UHS workers said they were unable to give a specific price for the rapid tests for sick students. However, in a follow-up call on Oct. 13, another UHS worker said that the rapid tests cost $35, billed to the student’s bursar account. 

No-cost testing can also be obtained by using one of the sites listed on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website.

On-campus students aren’t the only ones monitoring the testing situation. Jordan Arnold, FCLC ’22, who lives off-campus and takes all of her classes remotely, said that she is “concerned” about having her ID card deactivated. Students without two tests on file had their student ID cards deactivated as of Sept. 23, limiting their access to campus.

Keown said that untested students “would need one test prior to coming back to campus and to be signed up with Vital Check. They would then follow up with surveillance testing after returning to campus.”

Arnold’s concerns go beyond her ID card. “I am worried that Fordham is mishandling COVID testing,” she said. “I think they are being very lax about it.”

When asked about her plans for the upcoming spring semester, Arnold said, “I’m thinking about sticking with online classes while at my house. I’ll definitely consider Fordham’s guidelines for when we get back, the overall conditions of the COVID situation, the housing situation and the formats that classes are available in.”

Keown echoed that faith in the Fordham community. “I think that we have been successful so far because of the hard work and dedication of all members of the Fordham community,” she said.

“Together we are making this work. We are wearing masks, washing our hands and practicing social distancing which helps to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus.”