Weekly Surveillance Testing

On this page:

Learn more about UB’s program to test all campus community members with regular on-campus contact during the spring semester, and register for your test.

What You Need To Know

Spring ’21 Mandatory Return-to-Campus Testing

If you still need to submit documentation for mandatory return-to-campus testing, you have until Feb. 12 to do so by going here.

How To Get Tested

Mandatory weekly testing will be conducted beginning Feb. 8 and will continue throughout the spring semester.

Students must make an appointment with UB (Step 1) before registering for testing with SUNY (Step 2). There is no charge associated with this test.

Faculty and staff do not need to make an appointment and should proceed to Step 2.

On the Day of Your Test:

STUDENTS: Consequences for Non-Compliance

Regular COVID-19 testing is an effective way to keep our campus safe, and disregarding this mandate will have consequences.

FAQ: Understanding Weekly Surveillance Testing

FAQ: What To Expect

FAQ: Do I Need To Participate?

  • How does weekly 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.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring 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 is thus more accurate than other mass screening approaches.

    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 February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • Why is UB testing students weekly?

    SUNY’s updated policy on surveillance testing requires UB to administer weekly testing of all students, faculty and staff who live on campus or plan to be on campus regularly during the spring semester. 

    Per the new SUNY mandate (Jan. 25), students are to be tested every week, starting Feb. 8, as was communicated via email to all UB students and all UB employees.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • Who needs to be tested?

    All students, faculty and staff who live on campus or who will be on campus regularly during the spring semester need to be tested weekly. 

    For students, this includes:
    • Resident students.
    • Students who are taking one or more classes with an in-person component.
    • Students who use on-campus services such as dining, libraries or fitness facilities.
    • Student employees who work on campus.
    For faculty and staff:

    Invitations to register for the weekly testing will be generated by the Daily Health Check data submitted. It is expected that all who come to campus complete a Daily Health Check before they come to campus. Individuals who work remotely do not have to come in for surveillance testing.

    The following employees should expect to receive an invitation to register with SUNY for weekly testing:

    • Employees who have attested several times through the Daily Health Check over the past two weeks that they are coming to campus.
    • Instructors teaching a scheduled, on-campus class with room, day(s) and time(s). Roswell Park and other off-campus classes excluded.
    • Employees identified by FSA as working on campus.
    • Employees with a paid, primary appointment in the following units/departments:
      • UPD.
      • Campus Living (VPSL Campus Living, Campus Living Director's Office, Campus Living Facilities, Campus Living Custodial, Campus Living Maintenance, Campus Living Housing Services, Campus Living Central Services, Campus Living Res Life).
      • Facilities (Campus Operations, Design & Construction, Environment, Health and Safety).

    Employees with a positive case in the past 90 days have been removed from the list for surveillance testing.

    If your schedule has changed and you are working remotely, you are not expected to come in for testing

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • What can I expect when participating in UB’s surveillance testing program?

    Before your test:

    • Be sure you have completed “Step 2: Register Your Test With SUNY.”
    • Three hours prior to your test: Refrain from brushing your teeth or using mouthwash.
    • Thirty minutes prior to your test:
      • Abstain from smoking, vaping or using smokeless tobacco products.
      • Do not eat or drink anything, including chewing gum, mints or lozenges.
    • Do not report to the test site if you are ill. Students, please submit an excuse form.

    Bring with you to the testing site:

    • Your UB Card.
    • Your personal electronic device (e.g., smartphone, tablet or laptop).
    • Your proof of Daily Health Check.

    What to expect:

    • Upon arrival, you will bring up the SUNY COVID test website where you will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms and exposure.
    • Once screened, you will check in at a registration table.
    • After you have been registered, 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 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 the 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 February 5, 2021

    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. More information about surveillance testing is available here. 

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen location
  • What happens if I don’t participate in weekly surveillance testing?

    Regular COVID-19 testing is an effective way to keep our campus safe, and students disregarding this mandate will face consequences.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • May I reserve the same testing time, day and location for a whole semester?

    Students will be allowed to book their appointments in advance through March 31.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen excuse exempt
  • To meet the weekly surveillance testing requirement, do I have to get the test at UB, or can I get my own test?

    Students must be tested at one of the UB weekly surveillance testing locations. Students who have tested positive are excused from testing for three months. Any student needing to submit a request for exemption can do so using this form:

    Faculty and staff, please see the Human Resources memo.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • What happens if I miss my reserved student appointment time for weekly surveillance testing?

    If you missed a scheduled appointment or are having issues making an appointment, please utilize the option for walk-up testing after following all outlined instructions. Please note: You will omit only Step 1 as a walk-up. You will still need to preregister, prepare for the test (i.e., no teeth brushing, etc.), and have your SUNY test registration information readily available on your phone or other device before entering the testing location.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen Missed Appointment reservation
  • If I begin to feel sick, what should I do?

    Do not report to the test site if you are ill. Students, please submit an excuse form.

    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 February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen quarantine isolation
  • When will I get my test results?

    Weekly surveillance testing uses the same pooled collection/testing protocol that was used for the fall surveillance testing program. Your pool results will typically take 24-48 hours to process. If your pool tests positive, the constituent samples will be tested individually, and it may take an additional 24 hours to receive your individual results. All result times may be subject to weather delays.

    Updated February 8, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen results
  • 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 if you feel sick.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    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 one to two 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.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen quarantine isolation
  • What happens if I test positive?

    If your individual sample tests positive, you will be required to isolate. Residential students have the option of doing so in designated on-campus housing. See Quarantine Information for Residence Hall Students for more information.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • What is the testing protocol for students, faculty and staff who have had a positive SARS-CoV-2 test?

    As part of the amended SUNY mandate, those who have had a positive PCR test should not participate in surveillance testing for 90 days from the date of their positive test. After that 90-day period, they will again be required to participate in regular surveillance testing.

    Students who have tested positive are excused from testing for three months. To be excused due to a previous positive, the student must make sure they have reported their status to the UB Student Reporting Line at 716-645-1400 or ubstudentreportingline@buffalo.edu

    Faculty and staff, please see the Human Resources memo.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • If I test positive, do I have to isolate on campus, or can I go home?

    Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 must immediately isolate. UB is able to house and support residential students who require on-campus isolation.

    Anyone can complete their isolation at home provided that they:

    • Inform those whom they will be living with of their COVID-19 status.
    • Return home using private transportation (i.e., no planes, trains, buses or ride-hailing/ride-sharing services).
    • Follow their local health department guidelines related to isolation and quarantine.

    Additionally, anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is isolating at home should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, if possible, to reduce the risk of exposing any other individuals in the home.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • If I test negative, do I still need to wear a face mask?

    Yes, even if your test result is negative, you must continue to observe all relevant health and safety guidelines. Wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, wash your hands, monitor yourself for COVID-19 symptoms and stay home if you feel sick.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • I’m continuing my clinical work/labs/studio on campus. Do I need to participate in weekly surveillance testing?

    Yes, it is required under SUNY’s updated policy.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen clinical lab studio
  • I am an athlete, and am getting tested by Athletics; do I still need to participate in the weekly testing?

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

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • I have been living in on-campus housing during winter break. Do I need to participate in weekly surveillance testing?

    Yes. SUNY’s updated policy now requires the administration of weekly testing of all students, faculty and staff who live on campus or who will be on campus regularly during the spring semester. This includes:

    • Resident students.
    • Students who are taking one or more classes with an in-person component.
    • Students who use on-campus services such as dining, libraries or fitness facilities.
    • Student employees who work on campus.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    winter testing surveillance quarantine spring
  • I have not traveled outside Western New York prior to the spring semester. Do I still need to participate in weekly surveillance testing?

    Yes, if you plan to be on campus at any point during the spring semester, you must participate in weekly testing regardless of your travel history.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • I had a COVID-19 test off campus. Do I still need to participate in weekly surveillance testing?

    Yes, students who tested off campus prior to their return to campus for the spring semester as well as those who participate in periodic off-campus testing must participate in weekly surveillance testing.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen
  • I have a health risk or cannot/will not report for weekly surveillance testing. Whom should I notify?

    If you are a student and you have a health risk or cannot/will not report for testing, please use this form to submit your reason:

    Faculty and staff, please see the Human Resources memo.

    Updated February 5, 2021

    Spring Pooled Surveillance Test Testing Mass Screening Screen excuse exempt