UBC rapid testing program expands to athletes, frat members and some upper-year residents

UBC’s COVID-19 rapid screening test pilot program has expanded to include athletes, select students who live in upper-year residence and other groups as encouraged by public health — including fraternity members.

Students and staff who live and work in Thunderbird, Fraser Hall and Fairview Crescent Residences are now eligible for testing.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Rae Ann Aldridge, executive director of UBC safety & risk services, said that the rapid screening program expanded in consultation with the provincial medical health officer.

“By screening more asymptomatic individuals … we are able to identify additional positive cases thereby reducing the spread of the virus and helping keep the community safe,” Aldridge said.

In addition to the expansion of the program into some upper-year residences, the pilot has been extended to April 23, instead of ending on April 8. According to Aldridge, this extension was due to additional staffing support from the School of Nursing.

For varsity student-athletes now included, Emily Meier, a second-year kinesiology student and a member of the women’s rugby team, said that before the rapid testing program expanded athletes were only required to self-monitor for symptoms and participate in an in-depth questionnaire before entering training spaces.

“[The rapid testing program] more or less gave people peace of mind,” said Meier.

Meier added that if athletes have COVID-19 symptoms, athletics staff instruct them to be tested at another facility.

The closest testing site to campus is an urgent primary care centre downtown — 50 minutes away by bus.

Recently, students have reported to The Ubyssey that during rapid test check-in, they have been asked if they are involved in Greek life.

In March 2021, a video posted to Reddit shows a group gathered around a beer pong table in the Greek village, in violation of the public health guidelines at the time.

In a statement to The Ubyssey, Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Noah Jassmann said that the IFC was approached by a university representative regarding the rapid screening test program. The representative said that students who are members of a fraternity and have received exposure or self-monitor letters from Vancouver Coastal Health are eligible to participate in the screening test program.

Jassmann said that the IFC agreed to participate.

This is not the first time that UBC has provided aid to the IFC during the COVID-19 pandemic. In September 2020, UBC confirmed its partnership with the IFC and was providing temperature guns, hand sanitizer and masks to the organization.

“Our members are always expected to adhere to all provincial health guidelines, and are consistently kept updated throughout our communication channels,” Jassmann said when asked about the IFC’s response to ongoing concerns about potential cases in the Greek community.

Eleni Bascombe, president of UBC Sororities, declined to comment on the rapid testing program.

Aldridge also did not provide further comment when asked about the involvement of Greek life in the rapid screening program.

“We are in the process of evaluating the potential for continuing the rapid screening pilot beyond April and will update the community in the weeks to come,” said Aldridge.