ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — In an effort to prevent community spread of COVID-19, SUNY is having all on-campus students tested before heading home for Thanksgiving break. About 140,000 students will be required to take a test within the 10-day period before the holiday break starts. The majority of that will be done through saliva testing.
“Too often… we’re finding, it’s not the student that may be getting sick, but they could infect somebody else, an older loved one, an immune-compromised loved one, and that’s the last thing we want to see,” said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.
Malatras says since the start of the semester about 270,000 tests have been administered on SUNY campuses with a positivity rate of .5%. That’s despite outbreaks at some campuses like SUNY Oneonta and UAlbany. He says all of the 64 campuses have already been regularly testing students. As for the pre-Thanksgiving break testing, “Most students will do the saliva test, some can still do the diagnostic test, so our campuses choose the different test, but the saliva test is the most readily available one. That turn around is less than 48 hours,” he said.
After the Thanksgiving break, SUNY is switching to virtual instruction for the rest of the fall semester. Malatras says SUNY is also putting the finishing touches on plans for the Spring Semester, which will require pre-testing before the students come back. “We are likely to start our spring, our spring semester later, we’re gonna try to get through some of the colder months so we’re not as indoors, I know that it’s been a real concern of health officials, we’re going to condense some of our schedule, not do spring break, things like that. so people aren’t traveling across the country and focusing on their academic mission,” he said.
For the pre-Thanksgiving break testing, SUNY schools will need to submit a plan by November 5 about how they’ll test their on-campus students.