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Your Efforts Are Noticed: An Open Letter To Penn State’s Testing Workers

To put it bluntly, this pandemic sucks. People are sick and dying, everything is shut down, and it doesn’t seem like life will look anything remotely close to normal anytime soon.

The effects are certainly felt at Penn State, with most classes running through Zoom University this semester and cumulative coronavirus cases crossing 3,500 this week. If you’ve been unfortunate enough to actually get the coronavirus in State College, it can be a confusing and isolating experience, even if you don’t factor in the symptoms.

However, if you find yourself needing to get tested for the coronavirus, the workers at on-campus sites are not something you need to stress about. If you are one of these employees, this one’s for you.

Thank you for continuing to do your job through some not-so-great circumstances. You have administered these tests in the depths of parking garages, through rain and blistering hot days, through long hours and less than ideal circumstances. You’ve dealt with thousands of students every single day who may or may not be hosting a virus that could very well kill you or infect your loved ones.

In a time where there are more questions than answers, where Penn State still doesn’t seem to have all the kinks ironed out quite yet, you have held it together. You have stood there, dressed head to toe in PPE, ready to put stick after stick up some college kid’s nose. You have patiently explained instructions to thousands of kids who didn’t fully read them and probably dealt with some attitudes along the way.

The point of this letter is not to detail to you what you do in your jobs every day. You already know that, and we do too.

The purpose of this letter is to take a second and recognize you for the way you’ve come to work every day. Out of the dozens of people I’ve spoken to who have had to get tested at some point this semester, all of them — including myself — have noticed just how nice you all have been through an experience that’s scary and slightly painful.

It’s easy to get annoyed when you’re putting yourselves in harm’s way to test college kids who may not have been practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, or who may just have been in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s easy to lose your patience and snap at someone who didn’t follow directions, or who’s asking a question you’ve already answered a dozen times that day.

It’s easy to be a dick. You guys haven’t been. People working the frontlines of healthcare during a global pandemic like you all have been deserving of more than a simple thank you, but I want you to know that even if you don’t get that, we have noticed your genuinely kind actions and attitudes.

For me, at least, when I got tested at the Eisenhower Parking Deck in September, I was already experiencing symptoms and felt scared out of my mind with my family 600 miles away. You answered my questions with all the patience in the world, and when I couldn’t stop sneezing with that stick up my nose, you coached me through it. I left that test still feeling nervous about my impending results, but the way these workers treated me never made me feel worse or more stressed, even in the slightest. I know not everyone outside of Penn State gets that luxury.

Even if this pandemic lasts longer than any of us could fathom, and even if you hate your job today, tomorrow, and the next day, please just take a second and know that you’ve helped to make a difference in some students’ lives.

You may not remember us, but we remember you. Thank you.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a senior majoring in English, and her goal this year is to get a big girl job. Seriously, though, if you're looking for someone who can write and edit like nobody's business, she's Katelyn Moats on LinkedIn and will literally interview with you tomorrow. You can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter for stupid content, but if it's something serious, feel free to shoot her an email (preferably in the form of a poem) to [email protected]


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