SUNY campuses reopen, students to be tested for COVID-19 weekly

Students returning to SUNY campuses across the state will have more than just extra assignments to worry about when they start the new semester.

"We knew the numbers were going to be elevated because of the holidays and they were," said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, outlining the state university’s new weekly COVID-19 testing policy for the spring semester once classes resume February 1. "We knew we’d be challenged by COVID and we are."

Throughout the state’s 64 campuses, SUNY has done more than 726,000 COVID tests and the positivity rate hovered under .6-percent.

The chancellor credits SUNY’s aggressive testing program for keeping numbers manageable.

"We found this was the best way of monitoring the spread and isolating problems as they emerge on campus," Malatras said.

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In addition to weekly testing, those returning to campus will also be required to show proof of a negative COVID test and complete a seven-day quarantine, key methods of stopping the spread of COVID-19.

"Naturally it’d be better to do testing every other day or every third day as opposed to once a week but on the other hand doing it once a week is better than every 2-3 weeks," he said.

Students, staff and faculty will be scheduled on different days depending on the campus. ID cards are scanned, information is entered into the system and test results are typically available within 24-48 hours.

"If students don’t test, we ping those students, if they refuse to get tested, there are consequences," Malatras said.

Stony Brook University is taking their testing regimen one step further by requiring on campus residents to get tested twice a week.  

"That’s actually double the testing for what we did in the fall," said Rick Gatteau, Vice President of Student Affairs with Stony Brook University.

Officials tell us mandatory mask wearing and reducing capacity in shared spaces are also part of their plan to reduce the spread of coronavirus.