With classes and activities back in person this semester, there have been concerns about the number of positive COVID-19 cases on campus.
To combat this issue, Tech has introduced many rewards to encourage individuals to get vaccinated and tested weekly.
In past semesters, Tech offered King of Pops, Tiff’s Treats and unique stickers to encourage student participation in its strategies to mitigate the pandemic. However, this semester, Tech has sweetened the deal with additional incentives.
This past month, all individuals who got vaccinated received a $20 Barnes & Noble gift card.
Additionally, rewards were randomly given out to testing and vaccine sites including 1,000 $5 coupons for local restaurants (such as Rusty Taco and Waffle House), 350 limited edition Tech athletics t-shirts, stickers and several helmets and footballs signed by Coach Geoff Collins.
Rewards for participation still continue. Until Sept. 30, all individuals who get vaccinated will be entered into a drawing for a $50 Barnes & Noble gift card.
Also, cookies and stickers will still be provided.
The Technique recently talked to Mihir Kandarpa, third-year IE and SGA vice president of well-being, to learn more about the testing and vaccine incentives as well as SGA’s role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus.
Kandarpa began by explaining his main tasks within his position.
“I serve as the main COVID-19 advisor in SGA. Since the student body presidents serve on GT’s COVID-19 Recovery Taskforce, I provide guidance and highlight areas [where] students may be facing issues,” Kandarpa said.
“I attempt to base much of my feedback regarding COVID on the latest research I’ve seen.”
Kandarpa continued discussing some of his work preventing the spread of COVID-19 on campus this year.
“My main role has been outreach to student organizations about vaccine and testing information,” Kandarpa said.
“In addition to this, I have led the Vaccination Campaign team in SGA. We spent the two weeks before classes started heavily promoting the vaccine clinic at McCamish by emailing 400 student organizations and communications leads in all of our academic and Institute Communications units infographics that had basic information about the clinic.”
He also explained how he is in constant contact with members of Tech’s COVID-19 Taskforce, including Dr. Benjamin Holton, the director of Stamps Health Services, and Dr. Greg Gibson, a Tech professor who created the surveillance testing program.
Kandarpa then reflected on the pandemic’s lasting impact on campus and students’ lives.
“It definitely has been a challenging time for all of us the past 18 months. Some of us have lost loved ones to COVID or have been separated from our families and friends for many months to protect each other,” Kandarpa said.
“The reality is that COVID is still not behind us; cases are up and are climbing towards our highest point back in January. Our testing numbers are also far below what we should be considering how many students we have on campus.”Kandarpa additionally expressed his sentiment for students who may be feeling tired of living with this health crisis and provided some advice for continued coping.
“COVID is still with us, and every single one of us is feeling burnout from the pandemic. We do need to wear our masks still to be safe, but once we do that and get vaccinated, there are plenty of safe ways to have fun and feel a sense of normalcy,” Kandarpa said.
“One of the benefits of returning to in-person is that we are forced to get fresh air and walk around campus more. I encourage you all to go outside as much as you can. Go explore different parts of campus that you’ve never seen before.” To conclude, Kandarpa commented on the responsibilities Tech students have to mitigate the risks of COVID-19, encouraging individuals to follow Tech’s pandemic strategies it has developed since last year.
“As students, we need to do our part to help end this pandemic. First and foremost, we all need to get vaccinated … Secondly, we still need to wear our masks … Finally, please get tested every week,” Kandarpa said. He also expressed the importance of Tech students relaxing in pandemic-friendly ways.
“While taking all of these measures, we can also have fun in safe ways … this is a great time to go outside, get some fresh air and explore Georgia Tech!”
To connect with Kandarpa about any questions, concerns or suggestions on what SGA can do about COVID-19, mental health or other issues on campus, email [email protected].