Rotating walk-up PCT sites reintroduced to UT campus

Leila Saidane, News Reporter

Editor’s note: This article first appeared in the Feb. 1, 2022 flipbook.

As students and staff return to campus for in-person classes, University Health Services plans to reimplement “roaming” COVID-19 Proactive Community Testing sites, offering results in 15 to 30 minutes with no appointment needed.  

This week, the University will offer walk-up PCT sites in Robert Rowling Hall on Tuesday, the Nursing Building on Wednesday and in the Doty Fine Arts building on Thursday. On Friday, tests will be available at the Pickle Research Center and Student Services Building. The sites are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. 

Locations will be updated each week on the Proactive Community Testing site. 

“This is just a response to overcome higher and higher surges,” PCT program director Jessica Klima said. “We’re always looking for ways to lower barriers for testing (that is) provided to make it more accessible.”

Students can only participate in PCT if they are asymptomatic. The Student Services Building, Proactive Testing Jester, Speedway & 21st Street and the Texas Union Eastwood Room are consistent PCT locations on campus that offer RT-PCR and rapid antigen tests by appointment.

The University first introduced the rotating sites model in the fall of 2021, but it has now been modified to provide more consistent times each day, Klima said. 

From Jan. 17 to Jan. 21, 9.7% of the total UT population participated in PCT, according to the UT Austin COVID-19 dashboard. Over the past week, 3.36% of students and staff tested positive through PCT testing, with 300 out of 8,265 tests returning positive.

“We haven’t reached our capacity for testing,” Klima said. “Please come out and get tested. You don’t have to wait in a long line, testing is quick and painless. It’s a really easy, quick way to have some peace of mind, testing to find out your status.” 

Marketing and German senior Mia Orlandella said the roaming PCT centers will encourage her to get tested for COVID-19. Last semester, Orlandella said she got tested every other week, which she plans to continue as in-person classes resume. She said getting tested regularly last semester was reassuring. 

“I wanted to know (if I was positive for COVID-19), just in case,” Orlandella said. “And I figured, why not? Because it was so easy to get tested that there’s kind of no good reason not to. … (After testing) I had this little flag in my mind that knew, ‘OK, I’m not positive right now.’”

Psychology freshman Zehra Mirza only got tested once last semester, but said she is more likely to get frequently tested with the reinstated rotating PCT sites.

“I tested when I first moved in, it was really quick and easy,” Mirza said. “The more (PCT sites) there are, the easier it is to go, just for the sake of convenience.”