SUNY Campuses Move to Weekly COVID Testing of All Students, Faculty, and Staff for the Spring Semester

January 25, 2021

SUNY Policy Requires Campuses Move to Weekly COVID Testing of All Students, Faculty, and Staff for the Spring Semester

SUNY Launches Spring Reopening Video to Build Awareness About Health and Safety Practices and Urge Students to Review Campus-Specific Plans

Chancellor Malatras Joins SUNY New Paltz President Christian, Columbia-Greene Community College President Drummer, and SUNY Ulster President Roberts During Pre-Semester Testing as Campuses Reopen


New Paltz, NY – As State University of New York campuses ready for the spring semester to officially start on February 1st, SUNY colleges and universities prepare for weekly COVID testing and make final preparations. Today, Chancellor Jim Malatras visited the testing operations at SUNY New Paltz along with President Donald P. Christian and local officials as students move back to campus housing for pre-semester COVID testing. In the initial round of 850 tests, only three were positive. Chancellor Malatras reviewed the testing operations at Columbia-Greene Community College and SUNY Ulster County Community College as well today. SUNY also launched its spring reopening video to build awareness about health and safety practices, and to urge students to review campus-specific plans.

"As we begin our spring semester, testing is a critical element of our comprehensive reopening plans, allowing our campuses to quickly respond as any cases arise in a targeted way," said Chancellor Malatras. "That is why we’ve increased the frequency of testing to a weekly basis of all students, faculty, and staff on campus. And the majority of campuses are utilizing SUNY Upstate Medical’s number one ranked worldwide saliva test, which can detect traces of COVID at the earliest stages, including the new strains entering the country."

SUNY New Paltz President Christian said, "We know that testing saves lives and that it is a privilege to have access to COVID-19 testing when people in many communities and states cannot access tests easily. We are heartened by the low positivity rates in our early testing and what they say about the care taken by our community members. Expanding our testing capacity so that all our in-person students, staff and faculty get tested weekly is our best chance of avoiding unknowingly passing on the virus to others, and we thank the Chancellor for his support of these efforts."

Columbia-Greene Community College President Drummer said, "From the moment COVID-19 turned the world upside down, Columbia-Greene Community College students and employees have taken every precaution to avoid contracting and/or spreading the virus. The College extends heartfelt thanks to Chancellor Malatras for his guidance and support, and the C-GCC team begins the spring semester confident that the protocols in place will help protect the health and safety of our community."

SUNY Ulster President Roberts said, "As we welcome our community back to the spring 2021 semester, we are poised to continue the shared responsibility that we all have to do our part to help reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 so together we can focus on the success of our students and learning at SUNY Ulster. We are fortunate to have the leadership of Dr. Jim Malatras, SUNY Chancellor, and his on-going support."

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan said, "SUNY’s continued innovative and proactive approach to testing will be critical in blunting the ongoing COVID resurgence and providing a safe environment for students, faculty, and staff. I want to commend SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, President Don Christian, and President Alan Roberts for making the health and safety of students and faculty, and our entire community, their top priority. We must all do our part at this important moment and SUNY has risen to the occasion."

Chancellor Malatras announced yesterday that all SUNY campuses will increase the frequency of SUNY’s mandatory COVID testing to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff who regularly report to campus. Healthcare students who have volunteered to help with COVID response will be made available to campuses to help administer tests. To date, approximately 2,500 students have signed up to volunteer. Since the 2020-2021 academic year began in August, SUNY has conducted 726,336 tests with a 0.57 positive percentage rate. Preliminary data suggests in-person instruction has not been a vector of the spread. As the semester progresses, SUNY will revisit the 100 percent weekly testing requirement depending on the positivity rate in the state and regions throughout the course of the semester.

As part of the campus visits, Chancellor Malatras is meeting with students, faculty, staff, and local officials as he reaffirms the spring semester guidance and reviews final, which was announced last November, and includes pre-testing of all students prior to the start of the semester, mandatory pre-semester quarantine of students, mandatory mask wearing at all times, even when socially distanced, no spring break, uniform compliance and enforcement standards, expanded mental health and wellness services, and a student’s bill of rights for greater transparency.

SUNY New Paltz’s Spring Reopening Plan

SUNY New Paltz’s spring reopening plan may be found here, and is in alignment with SUNY guidance. Campus will be updating its testing schedule in line with Chancellor Malatras’ guidance for weekly testing. The plan focuses on ensuring high-quality remote teaching and learning. Some specifics within SUNY New Paltz’s plan includes:

  • Roughly 75 percent of classes will be remote, and at least 25 percent will be seated in person or conducted as a hybrid distribution of modalities as was done for the Fall 2020 semester;
  • Limited number of students residing on campus at approximately 1,500, down from full capacity of 3,400;
  • Fewer students on campus this semester with about 2,000 students registered for at least one in-person class, or expected on campus for work or to utilize services, down from about 7,500;
  • Instead of a spring break, SUNY New Paltz has scheduled wellness days, called "Mind, Body, Spirit" days, for students on February 23, March 24, and April 15.

Also, as part of SUNY’s spring guidance, campuses are sharing a "What Students Should Know" plain language informational notice, or bill of rights, so all students know what to expect at individual campuses, such as how many courses will be online, hybrid, or in person. SUNY New Paltz’s notice can be found here.

Columbia-Greene Community College’s and SUNY Ulster’s Spring Reopening Plans

Both Columbia-Greene and SUNY Ulster do not have on-campus housing for students. Columbia-Greene Community College will be offering the majority of courses remotely. Those requiring in-person classes are within the automotive, building construction technology, criminal justice, cybersecurity/digital forensics, fine arts, and medical programs. About 150 students will be on campus for in-person classes. Columbia-Greene’s "What Students Should Know" notice may be found here.

At SUNY Ulster, their notice may be found here. The campus offers a variety of learning options, including face-to-face, face-to-face with optional physical attendance, face-to-face with occasional required physical attendance, remote delivery with live synchronous lectures, remote delivery with a combination of pre-recorded and live synchronous lectures, remote delivery with asynchronous recorded lectures, and fully online asynchronous courses. About 19 percent of classes are in-person or hybrid, with 200 students on campus for in-person classes.

Data Transparency

All SUNY campuses will continue to report positive cases daily via SUNY’s COVID-19 Case Tracker. The database tallies tests and active cases by campus and provides trends and positivity rates in rolling three-, seven-, and 14-day intervals, allowing people to understand the trajectory of the virus at any given time. Additional upgrades to the COVID Tracker are expected in the upcoming days.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2022, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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