Mandatory COVID-19 testing of UUP-represented employees to begin Oct. 1

As you may know, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and United University Professions (UUP) President Fred Kowal have signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding mandatory COVID-19 testing of UUP-represented employees who are required to report in person to campus to conduct some or all of their work obligation. The memorandum can be read in full via this link.

UUP-represented employees will be required to be tested if they have had a regular presence on campus since Monday, Sept. 21.

At New Paltz, mandatory testing of UUP-represented employees will be offered on Oct. 1, Oct. 2, Oct. 8, Oct. 9, Nov. 5, Nov. 6, Nov. 12 and Nov. 13. It will be provided in the Awosting Hall Basement Lounge, where student testing is already ongoing.

No appointment is necessary, but you are required to create an account with SUNY Upstate Medical University prior to appearing for pool testing. Please use this link to create your account. You will need to provide insurance information (though insurance will only be billed if a secondary test is required – see “Testing is Free for Employees” below for more details).

When the registration app asks, “Do you have a test kit?” you have successfully completed the pre-registration process. The test kit with the barcode to scan will be provided at the testing site.

Employees who are subject to this mandate will be required to be tested twice this semester: once in October and then again in November.

Representatives from the President’s Cabinet met with UUP Chapter representatives on Friday, Sept. 18, to review questions, concerns and logistics of testing. We anticipate that similar memorandums for other bargaining units will follow and we will inform the campus when that information is confirmed.

Employee Pool Testing: Thursdays and Fridays at Awosting Hall

Employee testing for UUP faculty and staff will be offered on Thursdays and Fridays, which allows the campus to learn of any positive results by Monday of the following week.

Testing will be provided through partnership with SUNY Upstate Medical University and will be conducted using a self-administered saliva swab and the pooled sample testing approach that is already in use with students.

The first offering of mandatory surveillance testing for UUP employees will be on Thursday, Oct.  1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and again Friday, Oct. 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Awosting Hall.

Employees do not need to make an appointment for on-campus testing and can walk in for testing at any time during these hours. Please enter via the building’s west entrance, nearest the pond, and wear a face mask when entering and while waiting to be tested.

Employees who are required to be tested will receive email and text message reminders about testing on the Monday prior to each Thursday-Friday testing block.

We will not require employees to come to campus for testing if they are not already present or scheduled to be present on the testing days.

Please also note that employees who arrive for testing will not come in contact with students who are quarantined in Awosting Hall, as they are restricted to their individual rooms and have their own bathroom.

Employee Test Results and Records

SUNY Update Medical University is facilitating pool testing on our campus and will maintain all results and records in accordance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Positive test results will be shared with Student Health Services and will be provided to the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion for the purpose of supporting employees’ absence from work and ensuring proper tracing protocols. Contact tracing will be done by the county in which the employee resides.

As has been done in the past, the campus community will be notified of a positive case, but the individual will never be identified.

Testing is Free to Employees

Employees will not be billed for mandatory COVID-19 testing, but they will be asked to provide insurance information upon being tested.

Insurance will not be billed for the initial pool test; however, if the pool tests positive, insurance will be billed for the secondary “reflex” testing that is necessary to determine which sample(s) within the pool are positive for COVID-19.

Any costs associated with “reflex” testing that are not covered by an employee’s insurance will be paid by the College.

Capacity and Opt-In Testing

While we are still in the early stages of rolling out this new mandate, we estimate that we have the capacity to test 50 people per hour. We will be testing roughly 600-800 people per week for mandatory testing. We plan to test the majority of on-campus UUP faculty and staff once during October and again in November.

We are working to make voluntary, opt-in testing available beginning Oct. 15 to employees who wish to be tested on campus. Our ability to provide this additional service to our community will depend on our ability to meet demands of student and employee testing mandates.

Alternatives to On-Campus Testing

Employees who do not want to participate in campus-based pool testing may elect to be tested off campus by their health care provider. Those who choose this approach will be required to submit testing results to the Benefits office, either as a scanned attachment or a hard copy (which can be left in the secure lock box outside of the Office of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion, HAB 603).

Off-campus testing must be conducted within two weeks prior to their indicated testing dates in order to meet the requirement.

For employees represented by UUP, that means the first test must be conducted between Sept. 17 and Oct. 9, as the mandated testing dates are Oct. 1-2 and Oct. 8-9. The second test must be conducted between Oct. 22 and Nov. 13 as the mandated testing dates are Nov. 5-6 and Nov. 12-13.

Thank You for Helping Stop the Spread

We want to thank all employees for continuing to observe mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing practices, which are key to preventing spread of the virus. This initiative, along with our reduced density on campus through remote courses, is an additional step we are taking to help us respond effectively to positive cases, reduce and contain the spread of COVID-19 within our campus and hopefully keep all members of our campus community safe during these times.

UUP Mandatory Testing FAQ

We understand that employees and others in our community may have additional questions about this new requirement. In discussion with UUP, we have anticipated some of the questions and concerns and have updated our Frequently Asked Questions on COVID-19 testing, which can be accessed via this link.

The FAQ will offer greater details on the testing protocol and responses to questions and concerns already raised, and will be updated as warranted as more questions arise.

Get Your Flu Vaccine

We understand that health care is a personal matter, but we take this opportunity to encourage all employees to consult your pharmacist or health care provider about receiving this season’s flu vaccine.

The flu vaccine is proven to prevent the flu in some and reduce the range of symptoms and severity for many others who contract the flu. While it does not prevent the COVID-19 virus, the flu vaccine is an important tool for protecting public health during this pandemic: Flu can reduce immunity and create greater risk of infection by COVID-19 and other illnesses, and flu patients often require medical services and resources that are already stretched thin due to coronavirus.

Unfortunately, flu symptoms are similar to COVID-19 symptoms in many ways. The College encourages all members of our community to remain off campus and seek medical advice or treatment if you experience those symptoms.

Thank you for your cooperation in this important new step to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our campus community.