Require Frequent COVID Testing at American University

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Require Frequent COVID Testing at American University

This petition made change with 1,700 supporters!
Katherine Greenstein (they/them) started this petition to American University and

Students at American University (AU) are demanding change. After a semester of in-person classes and activities and the sharp increase in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving break, we are demanding that AU do better. As of now, American University is refusing to require regular and frequent testing, a measure that is known to help counteract the spread of COVID-19. And yet, after almost two years of knowing what bad policymaking can do, the University is still intent on refusing to take this action to protect the student body. 


While this pandemic has affected everyone, one community underserved and targeted in the COVID-19 pandemic and the policy surrounding it is the Disabled community, and at AU, it’s no different. I’ve led the Disabled Student Union at AU since its inception this past March, and something that comes up time and time again is the lack of enforcement of safety measures that we do have and an administration that seems unwilling to take further steps to stop the spread and protect vulnerable communities like ours. Studies have shown throughout the pandemic that COVID is triple jeopardy for Disabled people, and that, for many high risk students at AU is a matter of life and death. We are entitled under Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act to an equal, safe, and accommodated education in institutions that receive federal funding, and that includes American University. So why, in a pandemic still killing thousands each day, are we not taking action to protect vulnerable members of our community? 


In September of 2020, the National Institute of Health (NIH) published an article linked here that discusses the importance of getting tested regularly, and how this is one piece of the puzzle for policymakers to help get us back on track and keep people safe and healthy. It’s been over a year since this was published, and the entire time, AU chose to ignore this guidance from the NIH, and has refused over and over again to answer to the demands of students. This is unacceptable


The thing is, we know it’s possible. Universities like George Washington University (GWU), right down the road from AU, have mandatory testing every 15 days for students, and with that information, have been better prepared and more able to protect their student body from the spread of COVID-19. They’re not alone, either, as many schools across the country–like University of Southern California (USC), Northeastern, and GWU–are requiring testing to keep their students safe. By testing at least twice a month, we’re able to identify low symptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and asymptomatic students and help slow the spread of COVID-19 through those community members by getting them access to care sooner, and protecting vulnerable students from exposure.


While requiring testing can be seen as inconvenient for students and potentially expensive for the university, it’s important to remember that no matter the cost, saving the lives of members of this community is worth it. Working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect vulnerable members of our community is worth it. Keeping students and staff safe is worth it. As I told Teen Vogue in August at the start of the academic year, “The world is moving on far too quickly from a pandemic that still kills thousands of people every single day. I wish people understood that disabled students need compassion. We are humans, our lives matter, we are people, and we don't deserve to be left behind.

 

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