COVID-19 screening protocols questioned across campus

Morgan is tracking individuals’ COVID-19 symptoms upon entry in university buildings, but the strategy is faced with issues identifying students.


Jordan D. Brown

Students stand in long lines as they wait for the daily COVID-19 screening questions.

David Lance, Contributing Writer

Morgan State University’s COVID-19 screening protocols have sparked questions between both students and faculty. As classes resumed last week, various systems have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The university announced individuals would use a health screening app, GatherSmart, to monitor COVID-19 symptoms and possible exposure across campus starting Aug. 2.

Instead, Morgan is currently utilizing a paper COVID-19 questionnaire strategy. Upon entry in several buildings across campus, individuals are stopped by security guards and asked for their first initial, last name and if they’ve experienced COVID-19 symptoms.

Students, employees and visitors are required to check in at the following locations:

  • Earl S. Richardson Library
  • Morgan Business Center
  • Martin D. Jenkins Hall
  • Montebello Complex
  • Carl J. Murphy Fine Arts Center
  • Communications Center
  • Clarence M. Mitchell, Jr. Engineering Building
  • Center for the Built Environment and Infrastructure Studies
  • Calvin and Tina Tyler Hall
  • Rawlings Dining Hall.

The university first implemented its sign in strategy at the beginning of the pandemic and continues to enforce it as students return to campus.

President David Wilson said, “We instituted a policy of having individuals sign in when they are entering buildings when the Governor declared a state of emergency.”

However, there are concerns about how effective the sign-in process is considering the possibility of students on campus that share the same first initial and last name.

Tori Daniels, junior hospitality management major, questioned how the university will be able to identify her when other students could possibly have the same name.

“The process takes too long, especially when I got somewhere to be,” Daniels said. “How do they even know who I am? There’s got to be other T. Daniels on campus.”

When it was brought to Wilson’s attention, he acknowledged the likelihood of students sharing the same name and said he would verify how university officials deal with those circumstances. But, he explained the reasoning behind asking for the first initial and last name.

Wilson said, “The whole notion here is that if you get the first initial, and the last name, you could reduce it even if you had eight people on campus. You could reduce it to a level where, then you would contact those eight people to see if you were in that building.”

As the campus adjusts to being fully open for the first time in 15 months, Morgan continues to evolve their policies to make the sign-in process more innovative and effective.

When activated across campus, the GatherSmart app will allow students to scan a QR code outside of university buildings and fill out a screening questionnaire online, rather than the current sign in strategy.

Wilson said there has been difficulty downloading and operating the GatherSmart app, but he plans to have the entire Morgan community on the app within the next few weeks.

“We have to work our way through the challenges of downloading GatherSmart and when that is done, then I would suspect that the sign in will cease on the campus,” Wilson said.

On top of the daily sign in strategy, the university administers COVID-19 testing twice a week. Within the first week of classes, the university reported five positive cases on campus out of 527 individuals that were tested.

The university conducts contact tracing with the current sign in strategies to notify individuals that have been exposed to others with COVID-19.

“We’ll follow in contact tracing protocol,” Wilson said, “And we have been advised here, you know by our own public health experts in how to do this. And so, there’s an elaborate process in place in terms of how long were you in the presence of someone, were you masked or unmasked.”