As part of Herkimer County Community College’s ongoing and evolving efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 on campus and in our community, we will begin conducting pooled surveillance testing during the week of September 14th.
In August, SUNY was approved by the New York State Department of Health to undertake pooled surveillance testing for COVID-19—an innovative method where numerous samples can be run as part of one test. SUNY's pooled testing approach was developed and validated by SUNY Upstate Medical University and Quadrant Biosciences. It uses multiple saliva samples, allowing for between 10-25 people to be screened in one test. Since receiving approval, SUNY Upstate has been working with many SUNY campuses, and last week SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras announced that all SUNY colleges and universities will implement a testing program to detect COVID-19 cases on campuses.
The testing can be done using saliva swabs rather than by swabs inserted in a person's nose. Individuals administer the tests themselves, swabbing their mouths for 10 or 15 seconds each, and provide the saliva samples to staff to be sent to Upstate Medical. Their samples are combined into one, which is tested for SARS-CoV-2 virus. A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed at the time to be coronavirus-free. A positive test for the pool would mean each individual saliva sample within the pool would need to be tested again individually to pinpoint exact positive cases.
At Herkimer, surveillance testing will be required for the following:
- students residing in campus housing;
- commuter students enrolled in one or more on-campus, in-person classes; and
- all student-athletes regardless of the type of class delivery they are enrolled in.
Students will be assigned to a testing group (A or B). Group A will be tested during the week of September 14th; group B will be tested during the week of September 21st; and the groups will continue to be tested every other week thereafter. Students will be notified of their group assignment by the end of the week, along with other testing details.
Surveillance testing will be voluntary for faculty and staff. We strongly encourage employees with on-campus, in-person interactions during the fall semester to participate. This new requirement will help us identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus who otherwise may not have known to get tested, thereby allowing us to contain the virus quickly.
Surveillance testing will be key to ensuring the health and safety of everyone in our campus community. We appreciate cooperation and participation as we implement this important safeguard.