Surveillance Testing

UB’s COVID-19 surveillance testing program is more targeted than mass testing programs used by other schools. It focuses on testing students and employees who are asymptomatic, meaning that they are not showing symptoms of disease. This helps UB monitor COVID-19 trends within the UB community, including identifying potential hotspots, and make timely decisions to prevent outbreaks from occurring.

A high level of participation in the program is important to protect the health of the UB community and the university’s neighbors in Western New York.

In addition to surveillance testing, the university also requires diagnostic testing of university members who are symptomatic and performs regular testing of special populations, such as student-athletes. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is of the utmost importance to the university and is at the forefront of our planning and response to the pandemic.

FAQ

How does surveillance testing work?

This test, developed by SUNY Upstate Medical University and approved by the New York State Department of Health for use by all SUNY institutions, evaluates saliva samples collected from individuals that have been pooled (combined) with others. This pooled sampling enables researchers to test greater swaths of the community more rapidly while preserving the scientific integrity of the data.

For additional details, read the UB Now story What to expect if you’re selected for surveillance testing

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

Why is UB conducting surveillance testing?

Protecting the health and safety of the campus community is paramount to the university. To keep the University at Buffalo community safe and monitor its health daily, UB relies on a robust set of health protocols recommended by the CDC as best practices for higher education. This includes enforc­ing mask­ing re­quire­ments, re­duc­ing density on campus, dis­cour­ag­ing stu­dent gath­er­ings and regular testing of students, faculty and staff.

UB’s surveillance testing program is intentionally more targeted than mass testing programs used by other schools. UB is testing people who are asymptomatic. This helps the university monitor trends in the prevalence of COVID-19 within the UB community and make timely decisions on interventions, in order to identify potential hotspots and stop the spread of the virus before outbreaks occur. 

The university will conduct 1,250 surveillance tests per week until mid-November when the university will shift to remote learning for the remainder of the fall semester and will continue to test the small population of individuals who remain on campus.

See also the UB Now story What to expect if you’re selected for surveillance testing

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

Where will surveillance testing take place?

There will be testing sites located on all three of UB’s campuses—North, South and Downtown.

Updated September 16, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen location

Who will be tested during surveillance testing?

Surveillance testing is now mandatory for

  • Students residing in campus housing.
  • Students who live off-campus and have at least one in-person class will also be included, as well as students who live off-campus in Erie and Niagara counties and are enrolled only in remote classes.
  • Most employees

If you are requested to participate in surveillance testing, but do not live in Erie or Niagara County, respond to the email with your current/udpated address and explain that you are remote.

For additional details, read the UB Now story What to expect if you’re selected for surveillance testing

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I have been selected for surveillance testing—what can I expect?

Students, faculty and staff selected for surveillance testing will receive an email requesting their participation, with a link for registering online.

Before your test:

  • Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash within three hours of your test.
  • Within 30 minutes of your test, do not eat or drink anything, including chewing gum, mints or lozenges,
  • Refrain from smoking, vaping or using smokeless tobacco products.

Bring with you to the testing site:

  • Your campus ID
  • Personal electronic device

What to expect:

  • Upon arrival, you will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure, including a temperature check and a brief questionnaire.
  • Participants who clear this preliminary screening will then proceed to a registration table.
  • There, staff will provide you with your test kit, which will include a saliva swab and test tube filled with solution.
  • Tests are self-administered and require a short, 10-15 second swab around your mouth, between your gums and under your tongue. These are not nasopharyngeal tests, in which swabs are inserted through an individual’s nasal cavity.

After you have completed the test, your sample will be combined with 11 other samples. That pool will be tested for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Updated October 14, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

Will I have to quarantine while I’m waiting for my surveillance testing results?

Participants in the pooled surveillance testing are not required to quarantine after specimen collection. However, if your pool’s test results are positive, your original sample will then be tested separately. This can be done using a portion of your saliva from the original sample. Results from the testing of the individual samples from a positive pool may take 1-2 days to be processed. During that time, you will be instructed to quarantine. If you are confirmed to be positive by the testing of your individual sample, you will be required to isolate. Individuals who test negative in the individual test will be released from quarantine.

Students living on campus who are directed to isolate will be housed in designated housing, see Quarantine Information for Students.

For additional details, read the UB Now story What to expect if you’re selected for surveillance testing

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen quarantine isolation

My pool tested negative. Does that mean I am not infected?

Individuals in a pool that tests negative are presumed to be coronavirus-free; however, a negative test result only demonstrates that you and the others in your pool had undetectable levels of virus at the time that samples were taken.

Research shows that the virus may take two to five days after initial exposure to reach detectable levels. You may have been tested inside this window, which means you (or anyone else in your pool) could have been infected but with undetectable levels of virus, or you may have been exposed to the virus after getting tested but before getting the results.

Even if your results come back negative, you must continue to follow UB’s Health and Safety Guidelines. Wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash hands frequently and stay home when you feel sick.

For additional details, read the UB Now story What to expect if you’re selected for surveillance testing

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I have heard about other tests returning false positives. How accurate is this test?

This test only evaluates for SARS-CoV-2 virus, not those that cause the common cold or influenza, and will not report a positive except for SARS-CoV-2.

The test is 95% accurate when as few as five copies of the virus are present in the sample and 100% accurate when more than five copies are present. According to SUNY, this test “exhibits markedly improved specificity in both individual and pooled saliva testing.”

Updated September 16, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I haven’t been selected for surveillance testing, but I feel sick—what should I do?

Symptoms of COVID-19 may include cough, shortness of breath, fever, and loss of taste or smell. If you experience any of these symptoms or feel unwell, quarantine as a precaution and contact your health care provider.

Additional Guidance For

Updated October 7, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen quarantine isolation

I had a covid-19 test off campus, do I still need to participate in surveillance testing?

Yes, students who test off campus and get called for surveillance testing still need to come to their assigned test.

Updated October 6, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I am not a resident of Erie or Niagara counties and I received an invitation for surveillance testing – what should I do?

If you are requested to participate in surveillance testing, but do not live in Erie or Niagara counties, respond to the email with your current udpated address and explain that you are taking a fully-remote course load.

Otherwise, you will continue to receive invitations to participate in surveillance testing.

Updated October 12, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen reside

I do not have any in-person classes and do not come on campus. Why do I still need to test?

Testing is part of UB’s plan to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and keep our community safe. Per New York State, surveillance testing is mandatory for students who:

  • live on campus
  • live off-campus, but take at least one in-person class
  • live off-campus, but reside in Erie or Niagara County

If you are selected to participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing, it is expected that you will participate.  If do not currently live in Erie or Niagara County, please update your information in the HUB system.

Updated October 14, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I am a student and I have been selected for testing this week. I am not comfortable coming to campus. Can I submit my own test?

If you are selected to participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing, it is expected that you will participate. Off-campus testing results will not be accepted. 

Updated October 14, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I have a health risk and cannot/will not report for testing – who do I notify?

If you are requested to participate in testing, and cannot come to campus for a medical reason; please respond to the testing email and explain these circumstances. 

Updated October 14, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen, accomodations, vunerable populations

What happens if I am selected and do not participate in testing?

Per New York State, Surveillance testing is mandatory for students who:

  • live on campus
  • live off-campus, but take at least one in-person class
  • live off-campus, but reside in Erie or Niagara County

If you are selected to participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing, it is expected that you will participate. Selection to participate in COVID surveillance testing is random. If you do not attend the first available testing date, you will receive a reminder email. Missing two consecutive testing invitations is a violation of SUNY safety protocols and may result in sanctions

Updated October 16, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen Compliance

I am an athlete, and am getting tested by Athletics; do I still need to do the random testing?

No, the tests that you participate in are already included in the campus testing process.

Updated October 16, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen

I was tested last week and was negative, do I still need to be tested?

Yes. Selection of individuals who are assigned to participate in mandatory COVID-19 surveillance is randomized and on-going throughout the semester. Individuals should report to any/all invitations they receive throughout the semester.

Updated October 14, 2020

Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
COVID-19 Dashboard
 
  • Confirmed Positive Cases 
  • NY Higher Education Threshold 
  • UB On-Campus Isolation/Quarantines
  • Weekly Testing Results
  • Historical Reporting

SEE DAILY UPDATES