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New SUNY-wide COVID-19 testing mandate announced

Jackie Orchard / WAMC
The University at Albany has converted its parking lots for COVID-19 testing.

SUNY is requiring all on-campus students to test negative for COVID-19 within 10 days of leaving for Thanksgiving break. The State University system also "strongly recommends" all faculty and staff get tested within this same period.

Tuesday morning's announcement from the Chancellor's Office said campuses must develop schedules that conduct the test as close to a student’s departure date as possible. Antibody tests will not count toward the requirement.

The new requirement applies to all students taking at least one class on campus; using on-campus services such as the gym, library or dining hall; or working on campus. This means SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities will test about 140,000 students.

Chancellor Jim Malatras said the policy was approved by public health experts at Upstate Medical University and the University at Albany, and will help ensure a "safe wind down" to the fall semester.

"As in-person classes and instruction come to a close next month, tens of thousands of students will travel across the state and country to be with their families and complete their fall courses remotely," Malatras said. "With COVID-19 cases reaching record highs nationwide, this testing requirement will help prevent community spread as students return to their hometowns."

Schools must submit their testing plan no later than Nov. 5, but schools that currently require weekly pooled surveillance testing for every student can apply to have their pre-existing policy fulfill this new requirement.

Since the beginning of the fall semester, SUNY said schools have tested more than 270,000 students with a positivity rate of 0.52%. The rolling 7-day positivity rate is 0.32%. That data is accessible on SUNY’s COVID-19 Case Tracker.

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