Community of Safety
South Texas College opens up free testing for staff, their families and soon for the general public.
Students, staff and faculty braved cold temperatures at South Texas College’s Pecan Campus Thursday morning in order to get tested for COVID-19. The college has begun hosting free testing for its 2,200 employees and their families as well as its 30,000 students and will host testing for the public beginning Jan. 24.
In the middle of a surge in COVID cases, South Texas College student Daisy Reyna said she is motivated to do her part to limit the spread of the virus.
Among those STC faculty and students who turned up at STC’s first COVID testing site on campus, Reyna said she was recently in contact with someone who turned out positive for COVID-19.
“It’s a new semester and with everyone coming back from the holidays I think it’s really important to have these testing centers available for teachers as well as students. It’s only a matter of time before we end up resuming face-to-face classes so the fact that we have this resource here on campus helps a lot,” said Reyna, who is seeking a career as a physician’s assistant. “It can be extremely difficult to find locations to get tested so having this here really helps out.”
Patrick Hopkins, a music instructor at STC for the last four years said he began feeling ill on Wednesday, and began exhibiting symptoms of COVID. Prior to being notified about testing on campus, he had spent some time looking for testing locations at nearby pharmacies, which often had waiting periods of more than a week and a half, he said.
“It’s convenient not only for us as faculty but mainly for the students considering that we will be face to face in the near future, spending hours with each other in a very enclosed space so things like this are really important for educational institutions to do,” Hopkins said. “The college is helping us all stay safe. It’s good trying to promote that community of safety here at STC.”
Ben Briones, a photographer with STC, said his job with the college requires him to interact with faculty and staff as well as members of the community, so when he and his wife began feeling unwell earlier in the week, they immediately opted to remain home as a precaution.
But in a stroke of good luck, Briones said he became relieved when the college opened up free testing for employees and their families, and he was among the first in line to be tested for the virus.
“I think STC offering a priority COVID test for their employees and families is awesome. If you see the lines that form at other COVID testing sites you can get discouraged. With the college offering testing sites to us, that brings a sense of familiarity and it lets you know that STC cares,” said Briones
“It’s convenient not only for us as faculty but mainly for the students considering that we will be face to face in the near future, spending hours with each other in a very enclosed space so things like this are really important for educational institutions to do. The college is helping us all stay safe. It’s good trying to promote that community of safety here at STC.”
South Texas College began hosting free testing for its 2,200 employees and their families as well as its 30,000 students Jan. 20. Prioritized by STC’s Board of Trustees and president Dr. Ricardo J. Solis amid a surge in COVID cases, college administrators say it was important to begin setting up testing sites to accommodate typically long lines and hours of waiting at testing sites around the Upper Valley.
“The South Texas College family is a very large one and with the support of the Board of Trustees, we decided that bringing testing to our campuses was the responsible and the right thing to do,” said Dr. Solis. “We will hold testing clinics for the next few weeks and throughout the spring semester, if there is a continued need. It’s just one thing we can do to make our community safer.”
South Texas College will be also be hosting free testing sites for the community.
Terrabella Testing Services has been contracted to offer PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) tests to the public beginning on Jan. 24 at the Pecan Campus, Jan. 25 at the Mid-Valley Campus, and Jan. 27 at the Starr County Campus from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“This is a great effort by Dr. Solis and our Board of Trustees who really are working hard to provide this to the community, not just to employees or students, but for everyone in Hidalgo County and the Starr County areas,” said Dr. Maria Rosas, STC’s COVID-19 Prevention and Response Manager.
For a complete list of testing clinics go online at southtexascollege.edu/coronavirus.