Story by Staff Sgt. Tegan Kucera
Michigan National Guard
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The new academic year is beginning, and one university wanted to start it off on the right foot.
Soldiers from the Michigan National Guard were on hand to assist Lake Superior State University reopen by guiding both students and faculty through taking a COVID-19 test during the first day of orientation on July 26.
“The university has spent an enormous amount of time, thought and energy dedicated to making sure that for this fall we are able to begin a return to in-person classes,” said Michael Beazley, LSSU dean of student affairs.
In addition to their typical orientation services, students were also offered the chance to take a COVID-19 test when they started moving on to campus. LSSU is the smallest public university in Michigan with about 2,000 students, located in Sault Ste. Marie where the county has only had a few dozen cases of COVID-19 throughout the last six months.
The school has been in contact with the local health department trying to implement recommended safety measures to safely reopen. One of those steps was having the National Guard come in and test all who were willing.
“The National Guard came in and was exceptionally helpful in executing our plan, offering expertise and insight to make our plan even better for these subsequent clinics that we are offering,” said Beazley.
Members of the Michigan National Guard have spent the last few months performing nasopharyngeal tests throughout the state, but there is a new nasal swab test that a person can give to themselves that does not go as far into the nasal cavity.
“We watched them, making sure they were doing everything correctly, talking them through the whole process and answering any questions that they might have had about the test,” said Spc. Lelaina Boyce.
A medic with the Michigan National Guard’s Task Force 182, Boyce has given many tests to many Michiganders. She said most of the people have come forward for testing because it is good for the health of the community.
“I feel very confident that what I’m doing is very necessary and good for the people,” said Boyce.
With the new test there is less contact between the medical professional and the test recipient.
“The way I look at it, it’s a necessary service that we’re doing – I think what we’re doing is incredibly important,” said Staff Sgt. David Host, a platoon leader for Task Force 182.
Host said there was a lot of positive feedback regarding the clinic and the new test, because it is easier to administer.
“We’ve gained a lot of experience and applied that knowledge that we’ve gained,” said Host.
The clinic was held so that LSSU can have the most effective data to access the risk of COVID-19 exposure for their students and faculty, which in turn ensures a safe academic experience for the institution.