UB students using on-campus facilities in “any capacity” will be required to test negative for COVID in the 10 days prior to leaving campus for Thanksgiving break, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced Tuesday.
The directive was issued to SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. These schools will have until Nov. 5 to submit a plan to test their students. The nation’s largest university system expects to test about 140,000 students in the run-up to Thanksgiving.
“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,” Malatras said. “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.”
UB will shift to remote learning on Monday, Nov. 30 following Thanksgiving break. The university will close residential facilities and on-campus operations at that point, barring exceptions for students with “extenuating circumstances.”
This new policy applies to students who are taking at least one class on campus; students who are using on-campus services like gyms, libraries or dining halls; or students who are working on campus.
Students who do not come to campus will not be tested prior to Thanksgiving break, according to a university statement. Students who provide documentation of a COVID test result during the specified 10-day period will also not need to be tested.
“These tests will provide a measure of confidence for students returning home for Thanksgiving,” said Michael Cain, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine. “However, we must still stress the importance of our students doing at home what has helped reduce the spread of the virus at UB: wear a mask, practice social distancing, do not gather in large groups, and wash your hands frequently.”
UB will “make plans” to quarantine students who test positive for COVID before the end of the fall semester.
UB has 18 confirmed active on-campus COVID cases among students and employees, according to the university’s COVID dashboard. This includes six students living on-campus, 11 students living off-campus but taking classes on-campus and one university employee working on-campus.
The university conducted 2,793 COVID tests between Oct. 17 and Oct. 23, under its surveillance and screening programs. One of those tests came back positive — a 0.04% positive test rate.
Under the new policy, UB could apply to have their weekly pooled surveillance testing fulfill the new requirement.
It is unclear how the university plans on enforcing the new guidelines.
This is a developing story.
Justin Weiss is the senior features editor and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Justin Weiss is the The Spectrum's managing editor. In his free time, he can be found hiking, playing baseball or throwing things at his TV when his sports teams aren't winning. His words have appeared in Elite Sports New York and the Long Island Herald.