A negative COVID-19 test will be required for all State University of New York students looking to go home for Thanksgiving, according to SUNY’s chancellor.
New York’s public university system is hoping to prevent the spread of coronavirus to other parts of the country by mandating the tests for its 140,000 students, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras told the Associated Press on Monday.
All of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities must come up with plans by Nov. 5 on how to test the entire student population within 10 days before Thanksgiving break.
The new policy applies to all students who are taking at least one class on campus, working on campus or using on-campus services including the gymnasium, library or dining hall.
SUNY will require colleges to isolate or quarantine any residential student who tests positive or has been exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days before Thanksgiving break.
Testing is also recommended for faculty and staff.
The move comes as SUNY officials plan to transition most colleges to remote learning after Turkey Day.
Most of its schools didn’t require students to get tested before returning to campus in August, including SUNY Oneonta, which canceled in-person classes in September after off-campus parties sparked an outbreak. The university of about 6,000 in Otsego County has estimated more than 720 cases.
The outbreak led to the resignation of its president Barbara Jean Morris.
SUNY Geneseo barred students from arriving on campus if they didn’t submit a negative COVID-19 test between seven to 14 days ahead of arrival on campus. That university, in the Finger Lakes region, reported 48 cases among its 6,000 students this fall.
Malatras, who was named SUNY’s chancellor on Aug. 21, said he didn’t know why the state’s college system didn’t require all students to undergo coronavirus testing before returning this fall.
“It’s hard for me to know because I wasn’t here for approval of those plans,” he told the AP.
He’s since required every campus to conduct regular surveillance testing, though said accessing testing was a challenge.
Malatras also indicated that SUNY could require students to get tested before returning to campus after fall semester. The system is still finalizing plans for its spring semester, he said.