Across the nation, college campuses have reopened for fall 2020 amid a global COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, many campuses (even those with carefully constructed safety plans) saw nearly immediate outbreaks of new infections, forcing closure within days or weeks of opening.
To prioritize the safety and health of SUNY campuses while ensuring academic continuity, all campuses will implement a surveillance testing program to detect COVID-19 cases on campus. This will be done in addition to daily health screening and event-based testing. The surveillance testing will:
- Identify asymptomatic and presymptomatic infections;
- Monitor the baseline infection rate of campus community; and
- Mitigate potential super-spreader events.
As part of SUNY Sullivan’s COVID-19 reopening protocol and in compliance with the State University of New York’s (SUNY) COVID-19 containment and response strategy guidelines for all SUNY colleges and universities, SUNY Sullivan will be implementing the following COVID-19 Testing Plan.
Based on the total on-campus population of SUNY Sullivan, we will be utilizing a Saliva Pooled Testing approach and 50% of the on-campus student population will be tested every week. Persons being tested will be assorted into pools based on class schedules and office duties and schedules. The pooled testing technique allows a lab to mix several samples together in a “batch” or pooled sample and then test the pooled sample with a diagnostic test. If the pooled sample is negative, it can be deuced that all individuals are negative. If the pooled sample comes back positive, then each sample will be tested individually to find out which was positive. For all persons in a positive pool, care must be taken to confidentially handle the resultant health-related information in an appropriately discrete manner. Our safety monitors will be monitoring the pooled testing results in order to take proactive actions and will be working closely with county health officials on isolation/quarantine protocols for any positive test results. All individuals who test positive through our pooled testing, will be advised to isolate, per the guidance given from county health officials, and the county health department will be notified for contact tracing.
SUNY Upstate Medical University is the facility SUNY Sullivan is collaborating with to get the diagnostic results from our pooled testing. SUNY Upstate Medical and SUNY Sullivan are working together to protect our students and take aggressive action against the spread of COVID -19.
Surveillance testing does not replace the daily health screening form. Anyone who is sick with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should stay home and avoid coming to campus and reach out to our Health Services or Human Resources departments.
At this time, this testing is required for all SUNY Sullivan students but optional, although highly recommended, for all employees who are accessing campus.
A Q & A guide to SUNY Sullivan student COVID-19 testing can be found here.