STONY BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Exit testing is underway at all State University of New York schools.

It’s an ambitious plan to require all students get COVID-19 tested before they head home for the Thanksgiving holiday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.

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The ballroom at SUNY Stony Brook used to be reserved for massive social events, but now it’s used for mass coronavirus testing.

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Thousands of saliva tests are performed per day at state colleges and universities. The 10-day mandate is to have all 140,000 students on campus tested before heading home for the holiday.

“I want to make sure that I can’t spread COVID,” Stony Brook student John Tafe said.

Emily Lam will get her test the day before she returns home to her grandmother.

“I don’t want to bring it back to her because she is a very vulnerable person,” Lam said.


SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras wrote in a Daily News op-ed, “The aggressive measures at the nation’s largest higher education system ensures students don’t bring COVID home.”

“This could turn on a dime. People are tired of it, but it doesn’t make it go away. I think you need smart and sensible testing strategies like we’re doing at the State University of New York, where we are mandating it,” Malatras said.

If a student tests positive SUNY requires colleges to isolate or quarantine them in their dorm room. Local health departments will work with students to determine if they can safely go home. That has led to some outcry over government overreach.

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Students told Gusoff it’s a small price to pay.

“It wouldn’t be ideal, but you gotta do what you gotta do and I think everybody understands that,” Stony Brook’s Elah Ginsberg said.

“If you violate a health order right now you can be suspended form school, or you can be expelled from school. So, those are serious consequences,” Malatras added.

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After Thanksgiving, all learning will be remote only, with students returning in February and spring break canceled.

The chancellor said students get a bad rap for behavior that spreads the virus, but the vast majority are doing the right thing and want to be a part of the solution. Mandatory Thanksgiving testing is part of the solution.

SUNY officials said the turnaround time for students to receive their tests results is about 48 hours.


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