This Friday, September 4, our University will begin testing students for COVID-19. As you likely are well aware, comprehensive testing is one of most effective tools we have to identify the presence and mitigate the effects of COVID in a community.
We will be using a saliva-based pooled testing method starting on Friday with randomly selected off-campus and commuter students living in the local area. Next week, and again during the following week, pooled testing will be conducted on all students residing on or coming to campus this Fall.
With pooled testing, groups of 12 students will submit saliva samples, which will be sent to labs at the SUNY Upstate Medical Center in Syracuse for analysis. If the test comes back negative, it indicates all 12 students in that particular pool are negative. If a pooled sample comes back positive, each student in the pool will be tested individually to determine which pool member or members are positive. Students comprising a pool that has tested positive will be quarantined pending the results of their individual follow-up tests.
The testing location for all students will be at our Joyce and Walton Center. Instructions on preparing for your test, as well as the date and time appointed for you to provide your sample, will be emailed to you before the assigned test day.
It is important to note that participation in the sample testing process is mandatory. Failure to meet your testing obligations at your appointed time will result in sanctions under our Student Code of Conduct. The first missed test appointment will result in a three-month probationary period. The second missed appointment will result in suspension from our campus.
We all have a shared responsibility to abide by protocols aimed at promoting a safe environment on our campus and in the local community. These include wearing masks when required, following social distancing guidelines, and practicing good personal hygiene. For you, our students, it also includes participating in mandatory testing.
Media reports show what can happen if we fail to fulfill our basic responsibilities for mitigating the impact of COVID. Colleges and universities across the country—just a few days ago so hopeful and excited for the reopening of their campuses—are now moving or considering a move to close them back down. For example, as you doubtlessly have heard, SUNY Oneonta, Gettysburg, Hartwick, and Temple, among other higher education institutions in the Northeast, recently have all reverted to on-line teaching for at least two weeks because of COVID-19 outbreaks. These outbreaks have been tied to a subset of their students being weak links when it comes to practicing appropriate safety protocols. Your willingness to follow the safety measures we have in place, which includes participation in testing, will go a long way toward helping our University avoid a similar fate.
Thank you in advance for your understanding and involvement.