The College provides several different types of testing for the purposes of monitoring the existence or level of Covid on campus. The types of testing provided by the college are:
Diagnostic testing (students only)
Diagnostic testing for Covid-19 is performed by the Health Center to assess if a patient’s symptoms are an indication of the virus. Due to high demand for services and the fact that Covid tests are generally more accurate if the patient is symptomatic, the Health Center generally only tests students who are symptomatic. The Health Center uses BD Veritor rapid test for diagnostic purposes while they are available. The BD Veritor test is an antigen test.
In some studies, this BD test has been shown to have a significant false negative rate, so if a symptomatic student were to test negative for Covid on the BD rapid test, the Health Center medical provider would likely order a PCR test confirm the diagnosis. Also called a molecular test, this PCR uses a lab technique called polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR tests are very accurate when properly performed by a health care professional. The external labs that we use for this testing are subject to the same delays all the labs are seeing nation-wide and can take up to a week or more for results at times of high national demand for testing.
Information on Sars-COV-2 testing through Quest Diagnostics (a testing lab used for PCR tests)
The purpose of surveillance testing is to survey a non-symptomatic population to detect if the virus is present. SUNY Upstate Medical Hospital/ Quadrant Biosciences provides pool testing for this purpose. Pool testing describes the process of pooling or combining samples and testing groups of 6 to 12 people at a time. Pooled samples are tested through a molecular testing process, and if no presence of the Sars-COV-2 virus is detected, then all individuals are presumed to be Covid negative. However, if Sars-COV-2 is detected in the pooled sample then all individual tests go on to have individual reflex PCR tests to determine who the positive individual(s) are in the pool.
Ongoing pool testing will test all resident students on a weekly basis. All faculty & staff that come to campus to discharge their professional duties will be tested on a weekly basis.
Off campus students that use campus facilities will be mandated to test on a weekly basis and each week 10% (30% beginning Mar. 8) of off campus students that are fully remote and live within 15 miles of the campus will be randomly selected for mandatory testing
Students will be required to submit proof of a negative Covid test taken within seven (7) days prior to returning to campus. Students can submit proof of either a PCR or antigen “rapid” test. They will be alerted well in advance of returning to campus of this requirement and provided with resources for finding a convenient way to test before returning to campus. NYS Department of Health has a website to help locate testing options local to the student's home
There are also mail-in testing company options available to students that will be provided.
Students living on campus that arrive on campus without proof of a negative COVID-19 test result will be directed to on-campus testing and housed in quarantine until they receive a negative test result.
Off-campus students taking in-person classes or accessing campus facilities, who arrive without proof of a negative COVID test, will be referred to our testing center. After testing, these students should remain at their off-campus residences while awaiting their pooled test results.
In addition to the testing of individuals the college monitors the health of its whole population through testing of wastewater for the presence of covid-19 as infected persons shed the virus in their waste for up to a week before they can test positive in a clinical setting. Sewer discharge from the campus is tested twice weekly to capture both the transient and resident population. New Covid indications or increasing trends may trigger increased frequency of testing, testing of specific building locations or targeted pool testing to identify symptomatic individuals.
In addition to being an early warning sign of increasing infection, wastewater provides an additional assurance that the campus does not have a high level of infection as levels of Covid RNA in wastewater are measurable over time.