Students voice concerns after Elon University says students must get $129 coronavirus test

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ELON, N.C. — Elon University students are worried about required COVID-19 testing heading into the fall semester. Price and only having one option of where to get tested are their biggest concerns.

FOX8 reached out to some of those students and a university spokesperson about why the decision was made.

“We’re all sitting around saying, ‘Why put us through this emotional trauma over and over again when you could just wait and tell us the reality we’re going to be living in?’” Courtney Guthrie, Elon University rising senior, said.

Guthrie said the Elon vice president of strategic initiatives sent out a letter to the student body Friday, letting them know about a $129 coronavirus test needed before students came back to campus, a test only LabCorp could do, and students assumed they would have to pay for out of pocket.

The letter prompted students and recent alumni to launch a Facebook group as they searched for answers.

“There are a lot of questions that students have about why they are having to pay this exorbitant amount when there’s so many free tests available.” Lucy Jones, 2020 Elon University graduate, said.

Students did not understand why only one company could conduct their COVID-19 test. They worried it was because of Lab Corp’s relationship with members of the University.

“Elon has had connections for a long time, and currently two of the founders of Lab Corp serve on Elon’s board of trustees,” Jones said. 

When FOX8 reached out to Elon officials Sunday, a university spokesperson shared documents explaining that the company’s test can identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

It goes on to say there is a lack of medical staff available to verify tests from other corporations.

The partnership also ensures privacy and a way for university leaders to track students’ test results.

Jones and Guthrie said they received this updated information the same time we did.

“The frustration is now they’re saying students won’t have to pay up front, which in the original email that students received that’s very much what it sounded like,” Jones said. “It sounded like you were going to have to pay $130 out of your pocket and hope that you got reimbursed.”

University staff also said, “Elon will help students to gather information to submit paperwork to their insurance for reimbursement and will also have a process for students to request a fee waiver based on their family finances or personal circumstances.”

The women agree COVID-19 tests should be required but said it can’t be assumed every student has medical coverage to recoup the money spent on these tests.

“Especially with the amount of people losing their medical insurance due to pandemic layoffs and financial hardships,” Gutherie said. “I know at a certain point as a student at Elon I did not have medical insurance. It’s not a given,” she said. 

The university said it will release details this week on a process for students who are unable or unwilling to use the LabCorp test.

Elon will conduct random testing throughout the semester to watch for the spread of the virus on campus. Those tests will be administered free of charge to students, faculty and staff. The test this university is using is also being used at colleges around the country

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