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SUNY schools increase mandatory student COVID testing before Thanksgiving

Any student using any on-campus facilities needs to test negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the holiday break.

AMHERST, N.Y. — With just two weeks until Thanksgiving, SUNY schools are ramping up testing on campus.

Any student using any on-campus facilities needs to test negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the holiday break.

All of this is being done to try to stop any potential spread of the virus. 

University at Buffalo's positivity rate is very low, well below 1 percent. The university has turned Alumni Arena into a testing hub. 

"This testing is only testing healthy individuals so we're trying to identify the asymptomatic carriers. If students are sick, they go to another test site where they're tested," said Dr. David Pawlowski, UB's biosafety officer. 

He's referring to a county health lab or private health care provider. 

Testing here ramped up Monday. So far, 3,000 students have been tested, or about 20 percent of the student body. 

How is UB staggering the students? 

"Students can sign up for a half-hour window. There's software that we provide them a link and an invitation," Pawlowski said. 

Students perform a saliva swab test on themselves for 10 to 15 seconds. Test kits are then shipped to SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse.

UB says the turnaround time for results is about two days.

"Students are given an option: they can either quarantine if they're positive on campus, or at an off-campus site, whether it's at home wherever home is," Pawlowski said. 

Students who test negative can just leave campus. Other SUNY schools have either increased testing or are preparing to do so.

Buffalo State began pre-Thanksgiving testing this week, and Erie Community College started Thursday. 

Niagara County Community College plans to increase testing starting on Monday. 

SUNY students they don't have to go through their school to get a test, they can go through their doctor or a local healthcare provider. 

SUNY has already announced that when students return to campus in the spring, they need to test negative for the virus and complete a seven-day precautionary quarantine.