BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Before some local college students head home for Thanksgiving break, they’ll need to test negative for COVID-19 first.
New York’s public university system (SUNY) is requiring students to test negative for the coronavirus before they can leave for Thanksgiving break in hopes of preventing community spread as students fan across the country.
“I think it’s a great idea because a lot of people are going back to their families and they want to make sure they’re kind of staying safe with them. If SUNY is doing this it means that they care about their students,” said University at Buffalo student Susan Paul.
This mandate requires students to get tested if they either live on-campus, attend in-person classes, or us any on-campus service such as dining, the library or the gym.
If a student who lives off campus tests positive they would have to quarantine at their off-campus residence. On-campus students will have to stay on campus. According to UB, those students will receive meals and other care during their quarantine.
“These tests will provide a measure of confidence for students returning home for Thanksgiving. However, we must still stress the importance of our students doing at home what has helped reduce the spread of the virus at UB: wear a mask, practice social distancing, do not gather in large groups, and wash your hands frequently,” said Michael E. Cain, MD, dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB and chair of the university’s Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing Protocol Committee.
Not every student is happy about this requirement.
“It could be very frustrating especially since quarantine housing is very different than what I have now, having to pick up and move right before I can just go home and see my family would be very frustrating,” said UB student Jake Heberger.
Over at SUNY Buffalo State, students say they’d hate to have to quarantine during their Thanksgiving break but understand it’s for people’s safety.
“I’ve quarantined here. It’s not the best. It’s definitely not a fun experience because you’re all alone in the building but I think for the safety of others it would be better if people just stayed here instead of bringing it back to other people,” said Buffalo State student Hannah Tingley.
“If we all test negative and then go home and get it it’s like we know we didn’t get it from being here,” said Buffalo State student Jalissa Brown.
Most SUNY schools will make the switch to 100 percent remote learning after the break, including Buffalo State. The testing mandate it designed so that transition happens safely.
“Buffalo State College fully supports and stands ready to implement Chancellor Malatras’ requirement for students—including residential and those taking at least one in-person class—to receive a negative COVID-19 test result before leaving campus for the Thanksgiving break. The requirement is consistent with the college’s successful surveillance and pool testing plan that has been ramping up since September.”Timothy Gordon, Vice President for Student Affairs at Buffalo State College
State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras told The Associated Press that the system’s 64 colleges and universities must come up with plans by Nov. 5 to test about 140,000 students within 10 days before Thanksgiving break.
SUNY has planned to transition most colleges and universities to remote learning after Thanksgiving.
SUNY will require colleges to isolate or quarantine any residential student who tests positive for COVID-19 or is exposed to COVID-19 in the last 14 days before Thanksgiving break.
Sarah Minkewicz is a reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here.