This week at the Foghorn, our staff discussed the effectiveness of the Dons Health Check, the University’s brief three-question survey on COVID-19 symptom monitoring that students and faculty are required to complete each day before coming to campus. Failure to fill out the Dons Health Check does not actually disable students from coming to campus because they are granted access to campus buildings regardless of their completion of the survey. Because of this, the Dons Health Check is a complicated piece in the toolbox of USF’s COVID-19 prevention protocol.
Although the MyUSF app will advise students to stay home if they answer “Yes” to any of the three questions inquiring about their symptoms, students can still use their OneCard to access buildings and go to classes, the cafeteria, and other parts of campus even if they report that they have symptoms or neglect to fill out the survey altogether. While the University requiring proof of vaccination at the cafeteria doors has been a great measure to ensure that all who enter are fully vaccinated, having one’s vaccination status attached to their OneCard doesn’t mean much unless their symptom reporting on the Dons Health Check is attached too.
Knowing that the USF community can still come to campus, go to class, and unmask in the cafeteria without having reported their daily symptoms is discomforting. The University, evidently, does not have as much control over the situation as it would like to advertise. In addition to the simplicity of the questionnaire, the Dons Health Check relies heavily upon students’ personal accountability. Instead, the University must institute a more constructive and effective balance of individual and institutional accountability.
For USF’s campus to become a more reliable and safe environment, students’ completion of the Dons Health Check must be connected to their OneCards. While we commend USF administration for doing its best to monitor an entire student population amid an ever-changing pandemic, expecting all students to consistently comply with symptom monitoring without consequence for not doing so is regrettably unrealistic. At the very least, the University’s improvement of its COVID-19 prevention plan must be functional.
In addition to reform of the consequences to the Dons Health Check, accessible COVID-19 testing is another way we can ensure that the USF community remains safe and healthy. On-site, regularly scheduled COVID-19 tests would be much more effective in preventing cases than the Dons Health Check system currently in place, and will aid in controlling the coronavirus on our campus. Currently, it is difficult to get an instant test in the city as most free sites are heavily booked, and at-home tests are either pricey or sold out in stores.
For the University to meet students’ needs, USF must provide on-campus, regularly scheduled testing for students and reform the way students are asked to monitor their symptoms. In this way, forgetting or lazily neglecting the Dons Health Check will no longer be taken lightly, and both students and the USF community at large will be bettered by a more effective COVID-19 prevention plan being put into place.