Penn State Students Reflect on Fall COVID Testing

Story posted November 20, 2020 in CommRadio, News by Mitch Broder

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — With in-person classes just about wrapped up for the fall 2020 semester, Penn State has conducted nearly 70,000 COVID-19 tests throughout the semester to its student body.  About 4,500 of these tests have come back positive, a positivity rate of around 6%.

Just about every Penn State student has taken at least one COVID-19 test, and many students have taken multiple tests, whether it be through Penn State’s random surveillance testing or on-demand testing centers that have been located throughout campus during the semester.

These tests have ranged from rapid response spit tests to self-administered nasal testing, giving students a few options to choose how they want to get tested.

“I personally feel more reliable with the saliva test,” said a Penn State student who wished to remain anonymous. “There was no way for me to mess that up. I was just spitting in a tube to a certain point.”

Students have said that they’ve found the test relatively easy to access throughout the semester. This has become especially true, as the university has been offering free departure testing for students at the Bryce Jordan Center over the past week and ending on Thursday.

“Getting tested hasn’t been too difficult at all,” said Ben Caggiano, a junior majoring in data science. “I got a departure test on Monday, and it was pretty easy to schedule a time and get tested.”

However, some students are unsure about how well Penn State has done when it comes to getting its students tested. With about 70,000 tests administered this semester, it averages to students being tested just twice throughout the 13 weeks of in-person classes.

“They definitely could have tested way more students,” Caggiano said. “My friend who goes to a different school has been getting tests once every two weeks. I’ve been tested twice the entire semester so far.”

Some students are unsure whether the school has done enough to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“I do think Penn State is doing the best they can,” the anonymous student said. “I do think they could have done more to expand their testing and expand their contact tracing.”


Mitch Broder is a junior majoring in digital/print journalism. To contact him, email