A negative COVID-19 test will be required for some SUNY students before the Thanksgiving break.
SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras made the mandate public on Tuesday. He said the tests must happen within 10 days of Nov. 20, that’s when most SUNY campuses go fully remote to end the semester. The idea is to limit travel and the spread of COVID-19. Students who are positive will be asked to quarantine. Remote students will not be impacted. Testing for faculty and staff is also being encouraged.
“While we understand there is a lot of focus on plans for the spring semester, we must first finish this semester safely,” said Malatras in a statement. “I want to thank our students for the phenomenal effort during these difficult times as well as SUNY health policy experts for helping us create this guidance that ensures a safe wind down of the fall semester.”
For SUNY Brockport that means testing about 3,000 students. SUNY Brockport spokesperson John Follaco said the school has to ramp up their testing capabilities to meet the mandate.
“Thankfully we have some experience with this, we’ve been doing well over 1,000 tests a week for more than a month now,” said Follaco.
Brockport and many other SUNY schools are using saliva-based COVID tests for upward of a dozen students at a time. Follaco said they test 1000 students a week. They’ve had six positive cases so far this semester.
“It’s been an efficient and relatively affordable way to conduct surveillance tests throughout the semester,” said Follaco
A spokesperson for SUNY Geneseo said they’re working on a plan of their own to test students but will not comment further. Geneseo’s policy stopped students from coming to campus this fall without a negative test result. Geneseo has had 48 positive cases this semester.
SUNY estimates nearly 3,150 positive cases among students and staff this fall. Meanwhile, 61 of its colleges and universities have conducted over 270,000 tests and reported about 1,400 positive cases.
As for next semester, Follaco said there will be no spring break for Brockport and other changes are under consideration.
Follaco said the plan is for students to end the semester remotely. He said the structure of the spring semester is still under consideration.
This report featured reporting from the Associated Press