COVID-19 “Send them Home Safely” Program

As Thanksgiving gets closer, families across Georgia are trying to adjust their holiday plans because of COVID-19. College students might feel this the most, though, as they have to decide whether to travel home to their parents in the middle of a raging pandemic. Here in Macon, Mercer University is trying to make that process easier.

The school is offering students free coronavirus tests before they leave campus for the Thanksgiving Break as part of their “Send Them Home Safely Program,” letting students make plans and keep their families safe. Program director and Vice Provost Kelly Reffitt says the decision was a natural one.

“It just grew organically from conversations among the leadership of the university, after talking with students and faculty and having questions from them about what our students should do before they go home,” Reffitt said.

Students can schedule an appointment any time before the Thanksgiving and Winter Breaks using their MyMercer student account or calling Mercer’s COVID-19 hotline number. The tests are conducted in the Student Health Center and the University Center, and can even be completed outside in your car if you have symptoms.

“We don’t want sick students coming in the building and having contact with asymptomatic staff and students,” Reffitt said. “So when you arrive at the Student Health Center in Macon, you will actually call the hotline again and let them know that you’re outside and, a nurse will come out to your car and test you in your car.”

Mercer student John Bonner says that his testing felt safe and easy, even if the test itself is sometimes uncomfortable.

”Yeah, I felt safe,” Bonner said after he was tested on campus. “The tests are pretty uncomfortable to actually have done just because they take the cotton swab pretty far up your nose, but at no point was I worried about anything.”

With safe and free testing on campus, Mercer is making it easier for students to go home safely to their families for the holidays.