First rounds of COVID-19 tests receives mixed reviews, but resonates in importance

Ahead of the long-awaited return to campus, the Jesuit High School Sacramento Community spent Oct. 12-16 in a transitional orientation where all returning members participated in the biggest story of the week: the COVID-19 test. 

Each class level along with faculty and staff members underwent the simple cotton Q-Tip swab test administered by the company, Immunify. While the circumstances for taking the test were the same, members within the Jesuit Community walked away with different experiences and thoughts on the matter. 

Assistant Football Coach Jonathan Isaac, who is on the Facilities and Operations Subcommittee for the Safe Return Task Force, relates his experience to his responsibilities in the resumption of in-person classes. 

“My overall experience is two-fold as both a test-taker standpoint and a test-facilitator: As a facilitator, trying to accommodate the privacy of student information, plus the virus mitigation techniques of outdoor seating and physical distancing was challenging,” Coach Isaac said. 

“As a test-taker…meh, it’s just one more thing Jesuit asks me to do,” Coach Isaac added. “My physical experience can be described as pleasantly not uncomfortable.” 

For some students, the test was less intimidating and more painful than anticipated. George Sicner ’21 describes the COVID-19 test and finds it manageable for the subsequent weeks. 

“It was not as bad as I expected,” George said. “I thought it would go much further up my nose and be more uncomfortable … It’s definitely something I can do in the future.”

Brayden King ’23 already had experience with testing, characterizing it as “uncomfortable for a little bit” but still “tolerable.” 

“The COVID-19 test was not bad, it moved quickly and was very efficient,” Brayden said. “The doctors and teachers were very helpful and careful about keeping distance.”

In contrast with Brayden’s experience, others felt frustrated with the process. Isaias Iniguez-Sandoval ’21 details why the testing experience was cumbersome, but remains optimistic for the future. 

“I think overall my experience was somewhat strange and leaning more towards the negative side,” Isaias said. “I do believe that COVID-19 restrictions are necessary to reduce the spread, but, for me, my results took about an hour, so hopefully, we can be more efficient.”

Isaias expands on what the physical testing process was like, explaining why it was unpleasant.

“The nurse took the Q-Tip thing and inserted it [into my nose] in an angle I didn’t expect and it kinda touched the bridge of my nose and I kinda wanted to sneeze,” Isaias said. “It was quite uncomfortable for about like an hour [after].” 

Head Swim Coach and Social Science teacher Mr. Michael Solander ’92 agrees with Isaias’ assessment of the experience, but praises the team members. 

“I have been tested twice on campus and the process has been easy but the results have dragged past the 15-minute window…more like 45-60 min,” Mr. Solander said. “Both times, the test did not hurt, just a bit awkward having someone stick a long Q-Tip up your nose! The nurses or doctors have been good and professional in addressing concerns or issues.”

Jacob Pak ’23 finds that while the test wasn’t difficult, he did have some apprehension. 

“My overall experience was okay,” Jacob said. “I was satisfied that they didn’t shove the swab all the way up my nose, but I was also kind of worried that the COVID-19 test results are inaccurate.” 

Unlike their older peers, newly-minted high schoolers only know this COVID-19-designed campus setup. Owen Alyanakian ’24 and Lucas Pena ’24 share their thoughts on their COVID-19 tests and state their impressions on their first experiences on campus as official students of Jesuit.

“The COVID-19 test was not that bad. It was a little uncomfortable but overall fine, it’s just weird to have another person stick a Q-Tip in your nose,” Owen said. “The experience was fine and I started tearing up because of it but for the most part I was fine with it.” 

“My overall experience of my COVID-19 test was that it actually flowed really well,” Lucas said. “We didn’t have to wait too long to get our results back and the Immunify App worked really well. The actual COVID-19 test was fine and it didn’t really feel like anything at all. It was nothing like what I had expected, and I definitely know that it would be something I could do every week.” 

Members of the Jesuit Community share their final thoughts from the week’s experience. 

“Some takeaways are that it didn’t seem like it would affect me that much and that I feel as if it could easily be a routine,” said Jason Chou ’23. “I feel like Jesuit is doing a good job of making sure everyone is socially distanced and keeping everyone safe.”

“Overall this experience was pretty weird and surreal,” said Jackson Hagopian ’22. “I wouldn’t think that I would be coming back to school having to get a swab stuck in my nose just to step foot on campus … I don’t really like the process of having to take this test once a week and having to sit and wait for the results. That being said, it’s better than being stuck at home doing Zoom school.”

“My takeaways are that Jesuit High School is going ABOVE AND BEYOND to open safely,” Coach Isaac said. “Testing every 7-days puts us on another level, the only groups that test more frequently play professional sports. It would be ignorant to not acknowledge the blessing of the doctors and staff of Urgent Care Now gracing us with this opportunity.”

“I think testing on campus has made our on school environment possible as it is one barrier against bringing COVID-19 on campus,” Mr. Solander said. “It has made me feel more comfortable coming back to campus but it’s going to take our entire community, state, and country to adhere to simple distancing or wearing a mask to get us through this pandemic.”

This experience is something that will become a part of the new normal for the Jesuit Community in order to monitor the conditions and keep progressing in our return to campus. Although the initial test has been met with mixed sentiments, it is something that is universally acknowledged as a necessity for the safety of the community.