SUNY now requires weekly testing of all students in its in-person population. This includes students who live off campus but attend in-person classes, in addition to residential students.
New Paltz students, faculty and staff are able to get tested Monday through Friday on campus, in Awosting Hall, which also serves as an Isolation and “quarantine hall.” Fridays are reserved for individual PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and require appointments. Monday through Thursday people can receive walk-in pool testing.
Pool testing is when multiple tests (taken via mouth swabs) are tested at once. If the pool comes back negative, it is assumed the individuals in the pool are negative.
According to Vice President for Student Affairs Stephanie Blaisdell, if a pool comes back positive, that they will be alerted via text informing them that they should quarantine until they are able to get a second test, also known as a ‘reflex’ to figure out who in the pool is positive.
According to Blaisdell, most positive pools only yield one positive result, but some have had two positive results.
Testing an entire in-person population is a monumental task and it begs the question as to where funding is coming from.
“We are tracking our COVID expenses in the hopes that we will get some federal funding to reimburse us, but our expectation is that this is coming from our state support,” Blaisdell said.
“[The] notable features that have gotten us so far along with minimal infection rates, is the behavior of our students and other members of our community, the adherence, to mask wearing, social distancing, doing things outdoors when possible,” President Donald P. Christian said. “All of those are, I think, the biggest key to our success [here].”
As of Feb.19, 8273 students and staff have been tested, with a positivity rate of 0.55% and a total of 33 students and 15 employees testing positive for the virus since Jan. 1.
SUNY New Paltz appears to be doing better than the general overall Mid-Hudson Valley region, which has a 7-day average positivity rate of over 4%, as of Saturday, Feb. 20.
The college has implemented a camera to view the length of the line to get tested, available at https://webapps.newpaltz.edu/covid19/testingline . The “fish-eye lens obscures faces for privacy but allows you to count bodies,” according to Blaisdell.
President Christian said that he is hopeful for more vaccines to be available soon, and that New Paltz is planning a more in-person semester for this coming fall semester.
“One of the pieces that we’re keenly aware of is that our incoming first-year class, this whole will be students whose entire senior year in high school has been disrupted by the pandemic, and whose spring semester of their junior year was disrupted by the pandemic,” President Christian said. “We’re working on this having a place [with] more support for our first-year students.”
For more information on SUNY New Paltz’s COVID-19 response and information on active cases, visit https://www.newpaltz.edu/coronavirus-info/.