College taps staff and hospice workers for campus Covid testing

By Olivia Mueller

Lucy Townend
Testing takes place in the Virtue Field House, which has been modified to include several testing stations with a staff member at each one.

The college enlisted the help of roughly 55 staff from Addison County Home Health and Hospice and several college departments to assist with testing on campus this spring. College employees were diverted from human resources, athletics and other departments to assist with Monday and Thursday testing sessions, according to Jen Kazmierczak, environmental health and safety officer at the college. 

Staff are responsible for overseeing every step of testing, from check-ins and directing traffic to printing out labels and talking students through self-administering their nasal swabs. Every role has been carefully planned by the administration.

“The testing center was designed with safety and efficiency in mind for individuals working at the testing center and for those coming to receive a test,” Kazmierczak said.

Kazmierczak credited Middlebury Director of Event Management Jen Erwin with the success and safety of the testing process. Erwin is responsible for managing the testing center. 

“Jen works tirelessly behind the scenes, on testing days and non-testing days, to keep the operation running smoothly while still supporting her own department,” Kazmierczak said.
“[Her] dedication and operational skills have been essential to the success of our testing operations.”

All employees who work at the testing center received training specific to their role through both videos and in-person training. They cover shifts either for a full day — from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. — or take on a half-day shift. All employees are provided with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE). 

One of those employees, Assistant Director of Athletics for Operations and Events Franklin Dean-Farrar, was initially hesitant to participate in the process.

“The first time I was a [tester], I was assigned to the position, I didn’t volunteer to do it,” Dean-Farrar said. “I didn’t want to mess up and be the reason someone was in quarantine longer than they needed to be.” 

However, Dean-Farrar has ultimately found the job to be a positive experience. The provision of PPE and the thorough measures taken by the testing committee have contributed to his confidence in the safety of the process and the unlikeliness of exposure.

“The evolution of the testing site from August to today is a testament to continued improvements and thoughtfulness for [not only] the people working the testing site, but also the students, faculty and staff being tested,” Dean-Farrar said. 

As an unexpected bonus, Dean-Farrar enjoys the chance to engage in in-person interaction with fellow staff and community members on testing days. 

“Personally, it’s one of the best parts of the week,” Dean-Farrar said. “You have an opportunity to see many of the students and community members and be a part of something bigger than any one person.”

Dean-Farrar also noted his appreciation for the fact that working at the testing site has provided him with a tangible way to help students and community members in a time of need. 

“There are students going through so much change and uncertainty this last year, as well as staff members in our community working tirelessly to give our students the best possible experience they can.” 

He noted that testing brings a level of certainty to students and staff members. 

“At this point, almost everyone knows the process, and it’s a great time to meet members of the community I don’t know, or catch up with the ones I do,” Dean-Farrar said. “It’s a short window of time, but it’s amazingly rewarding.”