Surveillance testing of students begins at SUNY Fredonia
The State University at Fredonia on Friday began large-scale weekly testing of students at a testing site established in Steele Hall.
The initiative — in collaboration with Upstate Medical — will allow continuous testing throughout the semester of Fredonia students chosen at random. All students — whether living on campus or off campus — are included in the random selection. Fredonia’s goal is to test 400 students weekly.
“This surveillance testing allows us to identify students who have COVID-19 but are not showing any symptoms, which will allow us to isolate positive cases and significantly lower the possibility of community spread,” said Deborah Dibble, SUNY Fredonia student health director. “The students who came through today were understanding and cooperative as they were signed in and then given the saliva test.”
Surveillance testing — also called pool testing — allows for about 12 people to be screened in one test. The testing can be done using saliva rather than by swabs that are inserted in a patient’s nose. Individuals administer the tests themselves, swabbing their mouths for 10 or 15 seconds, and providing the saliva samples to medical personnel.
“Combining regular pool testing with other measures such as facial coverings, social distancing and PCR testing, allows Fredonia to keep a close eye on COVID cases and helps mitigate the spread of the virus on campus and in the greater Fredonia/Dunkirk communities,” said SUNY Fredonia President Stephen H. Kolison Jr.
The samples are combined into one, which is tested for coronavirus. A negative test means that all people in the group are presumed, at the time the test was administered, to be coronavirus-free. A positive test for the pool would mean a secondary test is run on the individual samples in the pool to identify the positive sample(s). The pooled saliva testing simplifies sample collection processes, making it feasible to collect samples at a large scale and during a short period of time.
“Being able to conduct hundreds of tests will give us a more complete picture of the virus on campus,” said Cedric Howard, SUNY Fredonia vice president for enrollment and student services. “We made testing mandatory for students to ensure their participation, which will give us the data we need to make informed decisions.”
SUNY Fredonia conducted two smaller surveillance tests earlier in the semester testing a total of 139 students; one positive case was found. More information on Fredonia’s pool testing program can be found at www.fredonia.edu/returning/faq/pool-testing.