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Colleges offering free COVID-19 tests for students before Thanksgiving break

Updated: Nov. 16, 2020 at 7:29 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Local colleges are stepping up to do their part to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

UNC- Charlotte, Johnson & Wales University and Wingate University are providing free testing before students head back home for Thanksgiving.

Wingate University testing started Monday. Wingate University has been diligent about providing free testing for students.

“Here at Wingate we have random testing - so all my tests have been negative," student Alicia Rubio said.

Rubio is a junior at the school.

She says so far this semester - she has received about seven COVID-19 tests.

She is grateful that the school is offering a test for students. Her latest test will allow her to go back to Spain for the Thanksgiving break to be with her family. She tested negative.

“I have to get a paper that shows that I am negative,” Rubio said. “Then I have to show that paper at the airport.”

Other colleges believe providing those free tests takes a burden off families.

Colleges want to do what they can to prevent COVID-19 from showing up at homes where family members are vulnerable. Educators remind students what they do after getting a test is critical.

“If you have a test today and then you take some risks tomorrow,” UNCC Professor Public Health Sciences Dr. Melinda Forthofer said. “That may mean you are no longer negative - so students really need to understand that a test is a great thing but it’s that snapshot.”

Forthofer is also advising students to come up with a plan and discuss it with their parents.

It has been suggested that students, if they can, to quarantine before heading home to help prevent the spread. Forthofer realizes students may want to connect with other college students when they return home, it is advised to be safe about it.

“It will be smarter for them to maybe meet at a park,” Forthofer said. “And go for a walk.”

Johnson and Wales University will offer free COVID-19 testing Wednesday and UNC-Charlotte will begin its testing on Thursday.

UNC-Charlotte students are asked to register to get the test.

It could take about 48 hours to get the results back. Some advise limited contact with parents and the elderly when returning home. Experts say it won’t be like this always.

“Part of how we express our love for each other this holiday season,” Forthofer said. “Is by making sure we all are doing our part to keep each other safe and that means we all change our behavior a little bit.”

Winthrop University is partnering with the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control to offer free COVID-19 testing to the Winthrop and surrounding community at the North parking lot of the Winthrop Coliseum, located at 1162 Eden Terrace. No COVID-19 public testing is currently available on Winthrop’s main campus located off of Oakland Avenue.

Free testing will be held at the Winthrop Coliseum from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Nov. 5-9, Nov. 12-16, Nov. 19-23, Nov. 25 and Nov. 27-30.

Beginning Nov. 19, tests will be offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Thursdays to Mondays, Winthrop says, and individuals will be able to pre-register starting then by going to: https://app.auratracker.org/signup/74. Click here for more information.

For more information about what other colleges are doing to keep students safe for the Thanksgiving break - you can call them. The expectation is what’s happening this Thanksgiving may continue through the end of next semester.

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