A gloved hand inserting a cotton swab into a test vial.

SUNY Students Must Test Negative for COVID-19 Before Leaving for Thanksgiving Break

State University of New York announced a new policy mandating all students using on-campus facilities to test negative for COVID-19 within 10 days before leaving campus for Thanksgiving break. The testing requirement will help prevent community spread as students return to their hometowns to finish off the semester remotely.

The policy requires SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities to test about 140,000 students over a 10-day period before the break. All colleges and universities must submit a plan to test all of their on-campus students.

"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," SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras said in a statement. "By requiring all students to test negative before leaving, we are implementing a smart, sensible policy that protects students' families and hometown communities and drastically reduces the chances of COVID-19 community spread.

Most SUNY colleges and universities will shift to remote learning after the break, with residential facilities shutting down, except for students with extenuating circumstances.

Colleges should schedule tests as close as possible to students’ departure date and should allow residential students to leave campus the moment they receive a negative test, according to officials.

Students are reminded to limit contact, wear masks, and practice social distancing between the time they take their test and the time they leave campus to reduce the chances of any new exposure to the virus.

Non-residential students who test positive must follow the strict quarantine guidance from the county health department. Colleges must work with their county health departments to quarantine any residential student who tests positive.

SUNY strongly recommends that all faculty and staff are tested within the same period.

About the Author

Yvonne Marquez is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. She can be reached at ymarquez@1105media.com

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