Free COVID-19 tests are available to students participating in the ongoing Rochester protests for Daniel Prude, UR’s University Health Service (UHS) announced Sept. 10.

Interested students should email Associate Director of UHS, Linda Dudman (ldudman@uhs.rochester.edu) stating that they have participated in the protests, and request a time to take the test. After checking for availability, filling a few forms, and completing Dr. Chatbot, asymptomatic students can typically get tested within one to three days. Symptomatic students must directly contact UHS for emergency testing.

The test takes about five minutes to complete, and results are available 24-72 hours later. Testing is available for all full- time students who pay the mandatory health fee. Student protestors aren’t required to submit documentation of their participation.

According to UHS, a student participating in the protests — which began Sept. 2 — wrote to UHS urging them to make free COVID-19 testing available. In response to the email, the University decided to start a free testing program for those students.

“We reviewed the evidence, and we decided that this would be an additional precaution that we could make available to students who are doing something that is important, [because a protesting student] does carry probably somewhat [of an] increased risk of becoming infected compared to just staying on campus and going to class and to the dining hall,” Dr. Ralph Manchester, University Vice Provost and UHS Director said. “We just want to have a safe semester for everybody.”

Manchester recommends that students who frequently participate in protests should contact their primary care provider at UHS to set up a testing schedule based on how often they protest. However, students attending protests regularly are generally advised to get tested once a week. 

According to Dudman, as of Sept. 17, 102 students participating in protests have been tested for COVID-19 through this free testing scheme.

First-year Tyler Walter, who attended protests before UHS announced free testing, had to find alternatives at Walgreen and CVS. 

“I was worried about testing, but I feel better that it is now available for students who choose to participate in protests,” Walter said.

“Being around thousands of people in close proximity during a global pandemic is scary,” senior Sakhile Ntshangase, who has attended several protests, said. “But so many of us decide to go because the pandemic of systemic racism has long been here and killed so many Black people.” 

For Walter, whose most recent test was through UHS, the UR’s free testing program “shows that the University is respecting our right to protest while also being committed to maintaining the safety of the entire University community.”

Tagged: COVID-19 UHS


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