Student-athletes step up to boost COVID-19 testing on Linfield campuses

Student-athletes step up to boost COVID-19 testing on Linfield campusesLinfield University student-athletes helped raise more than $165,000 this fall to support athletics and supplement testing at the school, which already has one of the most rigorous COVID-19 testing regimens in the State of Oregon.

National Public Radio reported in October that more than two out of three colleges in the United States with in-person classes either had no clear testing plan or were testing only students showing symptoms or having had a high risk of exposure. Linfield, which has 1,931 students, is not among them. The university reopened for in-person classes in August with an aggressive coronavirus-mitigation strategy that included providing COVID-19 tests for all students at the start of the semester.

In addition, the university created an acute respiratory clinic on the McMinnville campus as part of the Student Health, Wellness and Counseling Center. Any students experiencing any respiratory symptoms or symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 could be seen by staff and tested.

The university also put in place surveillance testing protocols on both campuses. A sampling of students living on campus and competing in sports are tested weekly in McMinnville, and the Portland campus tests a rotating group of students every two weeks.

This commitment, however, comes with significant additional costs for the athletic department, since the NCAA requires frequent testing for all athletes and staff members who interact with athletes. The tests Linfield has been using this fall cost $60-$100 apiece.

With sports seasons on hiatus this fall, many assistant coaches had delayed start dates and were volunteering without being paid, so Linfield Athletic Director Garry Killgore sent a letter recently to TopCat Club boosters to encourage support for these employees. He also hoped to increase the testing offered to student-athletes and athletics staff, without having a negative impact on the university-wide budget.

“My heart goes out to families terribly affected by this, but let’s do our best to get this together,” Killgore said. “It’s OK to ask for help sometimes – and we need help.”

The Linfield community responded.

As of November 2, more than $132,000 (net) has poured in, which Killgore said is a good start and a great example of why Linfield has a long history of success both in the classroom and on the courts and fields of play.

“It’s still not going to cover all of our costs,” he said. “But it takes pressure off our president and our administration,” while still providing new resources to the athletic department.

He thanked the coaches and athletes participating in the fundraising effort, as well as the alumni and donors offering to help.

Those interested in supporting ongoing COVID-19 testing at Linfield can donate online or by mailing a check to Linfield University Office of University Advancement, 900 SE Baker Street, McMinnville, Oregon 97128.