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ISU offering testing for all students ahead of Thanksgiving travel

All students, regardless of if they're symptomatic or not, may get tested before they leave campus.

AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University has changed its testing strategy. 

The university's on-campus testing used to only be for students who were symptomatic or had been exposed to someone with the coronavirus, but no more. Now all students may get tested at Johnny's in Hilton Coliseum before they head home to their families for Thanksgiving. 

The positivity rate on campus is higher now than it was halfway through the semester, which is no surprise given the surge of cases across Iowa and the country. Kristen Obbink with ISU says that trend on campus in recent days, however, is trending down. 

ISU does not require students get tested before heading home, unlike other universities in the country, though they strongly encourage students to do so. They have seen 400-600 students every day get tested and have expanded hours to accommodate that need. 

The university reminds everyone getting tested that a test is simply a snapshot in time. Just because you test negative before heading home for Thanksgiving, does not mean you can't transmit the virus once home. 

ISU students described how their traditions this year will be different due to the pandemic. Abbigail Markus, a junior, said, "Traditionally, we get together with anywhere from 30-60 people, but this year it'll just be my family of five." 

One junior on campus, Sidney Smith, said she'll miss the traditions that happen at Iowa State this year. "It's a little bit weird, shortening the semester and not having that time here on campus for Christmas stuff. I really enjoy being on campus with the festive holidays in between Thanksgiving and winter break."

Students are also taking precautions before they head home. Yan Wellner, a freshman, told Local 5 he already had COVID about four months ago but said, "I think I'll get a test before I leave just so I don't put my family in danger or anything." Smith said she got tested through on-campus testing Wednesday and tested negative.