Dr. Wellness Kiosk vending machines dispensing free or low-cost COVID-19 test kits have been placed at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley campuses in Calexico and Brawley as part of the California State University system requirement that students and staff either show proof of vaccination or weekly negative COVID test results. Twenty such machines are in place at SDSU’s main campus. | COURTESY IMAGES
CALEXICO — Part of the requirements to return to California State University system campuses this fall was to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or proof of weekly negative test results for those seeking medical or religious exemptions.
When classes resumed in-person instruction at San Diego State University-Imperial Valley’s two campuses in Calexico and Brawley more than two weeks ago, COVID test vending machines were put in place, following suit with the main campus, where 20 such Dr. Wellness Kiosk machines were placed in various spots.
There is one each in Calexico and Brawley.
“It’s very important to me that our students feel safe, and they have access to these kinds of tests so they can monitor their health,” interim SDSU-Imperial Valley campus Dean Dr. Mark Wheeler said on Tuesday, Sept. 7.
He indicated that this was especially important in the Imperial Valley, where access to healthcare can sometimes be challenging.
SDSU-IV spokespersons are approaching this from the student and staff safety side rather than the system-wide requirement, which one official referred to as an effort to increase services for students and employees during the pandemic.
“It’s all part of an effort to add services to the campus,” media representative Susan Giller told this newspaper on Tuesday. “We are trying to give people easier access.”
San Diego State University rolled out the self-administering machines on the main San Diego campus the same week that classes for underway on Aug. 23.
The self-administration kits were provided through a partnership between SDSU and University of California, San Diego. The vending machines can be accessed using a student or employee campus ID and only through the ID. The tests within are not rapid result tests and will take time to get proper results.
A main campus press release stated the tests were free or for a nominal fee. Photos of the dispensers show a price of $1 per test. A closer inspection of the main campus’ website shows that students can register for “free credits” and request them on an ongoing basis for the test kits or pay the $1 fee.
There are specific instructions on how the tests work, but the short of it is, a mobile app can be downloaded that scans the vial so it can be dropped into a dispenser for testing near the machine. Test specimens must be returned within 24 hours.
The machine on the Calexico campus is at the library and in the east hallway on the Brawley campus, according to the main campus website.
On July 27, the CSU systems announced its vaccination requirement for all students, faculty, and staff to access campuses or participate in campus activities for fall 2021. Those with an approved medical or religious exemption to not take the vaccine are required to show proof of weekly negative tests for COVID-19.
The same strict protocols that are being followed at the SDSU main campus will be followed at the Imperial Valley campuses. SDSU-IV enrollment is around 850 students.
Any student or employee can access the vending machines, whether they are vaccinated or not.
“Access to testing remains a critical offering during the ongoing pandemic. By providing access to this health technology, our students, faculty and staff, no matter their vaccination history, will be able to quickly and easily access COVID-19 tests throughout the day and into the evening,” according to Agnes Wong Nickerson, SDSU San Diego interim vice president for business and financial affairs and chief financial officer.
Wheeler added that the university hopes these protocols will keep the students of SDSU safe. Not only to keep students safe and healthy, but also make the community as a whole a safer place against COVID.
“I want students and their families to know that we will do everything we need do to in order to ensure their safety and wellbeing,” Wheeler said. “We are doing everything we can every day to ensure our facilities and our personnel are ready to provide that kind of protection for our students, our staff, and our faculty.”
Below is a video from KPBS in San Diego that we shared last week on our Facebook page regarding the rollout of the vending machines on the main campus.