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Pooled Testing Procedures for On-Campus Students

Important Steps Before Testing

One day before being tested, all test participants will need to register at the SUNY website that has been established for this purpose. As part of the registration, each student will establish a private password, provide demographic information, contact information, and health insurance information. It is necessary to gather health insurance information so that if a test group pool comes back as COVID-19 positive, SUNY Upstate Medical will be able to proceed with testing the individual saliva swabs that were collected, enabling those in the cohort to receive individual results within a few days. If a student does not have insurance, they will indicate “No Insurance” and “NA” in the insurance fields. There is no direct cost to students for testing.

Important Steps for the Day of Testing

  • Do not eat or drink anything, including chewing gum, mints or lozenges, within 30 minutes of reporting to the saliva testing collection site.
  • Abstain from smoking, vaping, or using smokeless tobacco products for 30 minutes prior to the test.
  • Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash within three hours of reporting to the saliva testing collection site.

The Weekly Testing Process

  1. Students will begin to be tested on Friday, October 16. Testing is required weekly.
  2. Every participant will need to pre-register for testing at the following SUNY link one day before arriving on campus. Step 1 of the online registration must be completed before arriving for the test. The remaining portion of the registration will be completed at the test location, including registering the specific test kit. You will need your health insurance information and student identification number.
  3. Every student can only be tested in one pooled group.
  4. The saliva testing collection site is located in the Fieldhouse Arena.
  5. Campus testing will take place on:

    Tuesday, October 20, 2020, 5:00 PM – 8:00 PM
    Friday, October 23, 2020, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Saturday, October 24, 2020, 8:00 AM – 1:00 PM
    Monday, October 26, 2020, 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Tuesday, October 27, 2020, 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  6. Individuals administer the test to themselves, swabbing their cheeks for 10 to 15 seconds, and providing the saliva samples to a healthcare representative. Watch the saliva collection procedure video.
  7. The pooled testing operations are coordinated by the Nursing Program and managed by healthcare representatives, ensuring that procedures and protocols are properly followed, staff is properly trained, and privacy and confidentiality are maintained.
  8. A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the sample group are presumed to be coronavirus-free at the time.
  9. In case of a positive test for the pool, each individual saliva sample within the pool will be further tested to pinpoint exact positive case(s) from the pool.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do I need to be tested?

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras has determined there is a necessity for SUNY to work toward full COVID-19 safety compliance by testing students for the COVID-19 virus. The Chancellor has advised the 64 colleges and universities within the SUNY system of the need for testing and strict enforcement of safety measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

How does mandatory testing help?

Weekly mandatory student testing is one component of Chancellor Malatras’ three-pronged approach to keeping SUNY campuses safe and open. The Chancellor’s strategy includes: strict enforcement of safety protocols to minimize cases (e.g. wearing a face covering/mask at all times while on campus; practicing proper hand hygiene; physical distancing; routine health screening and symptom monitoring), and collection of case-count statistics to support data-based decisions that will help contain the spread of the virus when it does appear. These efforts help confirm that our safety protocols are working effectively.

Why is SUNY using group saliva (pooling) testing?

Pooling is utilized in areas where the number of positive tests is expected to be low. This testing is less expensive and less invasive. This test will allow us to provide sensitive, accurate, and rapid feedback about the presence of COVID-19 in saliva samples from the limited number of students attending classes on our campuses this fall. We invite faculty and staff, working on campus this semester, to voluntarily participate in this testing as well.

What happens if the test results come back “negative?”

A negative test for the pool means that all 10-25 people in the pool sample are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free. Participants who test “negative” will not be contacted.

What happens if the test results come back “positive?”

When a pool test comes back positive, the same saliva sample submitted for the pool will now be immediately tested individually. This greatly improves testing capacity and result turnaround time, which is crucial to tracking and isolating the virus. Upon receipt of a positive result, individuals who tested positive in the pool will be notified to either isolate for up to 14 days or until otherwise notified by the College or the Department of Health. Upon guidance from the Rockland County Department of Health, the College will refer those who test positive, for appropriate follow-up care and next steps. If a class section was pooled as one testing cohort—the entire class may be asked to switch to remote learning temporarily. Alternatively, individuals may be asked to work with professors remotely during a period of isolation.

Will students be charged for the saliva test or any follow-up testing that will be necessary after a positive result?

There is no charge for the saliva pool test. Subsequent follow-up testing (individual PCR testing or reflex testing) will be processed through insurance or covered by CARES Act funds.

What happens if a student refuses to be tested?

As this is a SUNY mandate, testing becomes a weekly requirement for on-campus students. The Protect SUNY Agreement that is included as part of the health screening questionnaire that is completed by every student coming onto campus, has been modified to include this testing mandate as a student expectation. Failure to attend scheduled testing or otherwise failing to comply with the College’s health protocols (including testing and screening) may result in the student being denied access to campus.

Students are encouraged to frequently monitor their College email and the College’s coronavirus website for the most current information. Please note that as the pandemic continues to evolve, the content in this communication remains subject to change as new information, guidance and/or direction is received.