With the start of the new semester comes new COVID-19 testing procedures at Binghamton University.
COVID-19 testing frequency has increased for everyone, including all students, faculty, staff and auxiliary employees to once per week, according to David Hubeny, executive director of emergency management. Additionally, Hubeny said COVID-19 testing will now include pool testing through SUNY Upstate, which will allow BU to test every member of the campus community once per week.
As the University continues to strive for a more efficient testing procedure, Hubeny said students have become more accustomed to the process.
As of Feb. 10, the University has seen an estimated total of 14 positive COVID-19 tests, according to the SUNY COVID-19 tracker. After testing over 4,500 students in the past week, only eight students were confirmed positive by Decker Student Health Services Center, according to a BU Dateline announcement. Of those, five are isolating on campus and three opted to return home to isolate themselves.
After rising suspicions regarding the positive trend in COVID-19 cases after the holiday season, Hubeny said the University determined that rapid antigen testing was the best option for resident students due to the congregate housing in the resident halls.
“The rapid results allow the University to quickly identify the presence of [COVID-19] and isolate [or] quarantine individuals as needed,” Hubeny wrote in an email. “The pooled testing allows us to test many more people, and, since off-campus students and employees are able to isolate [or] quarantine at home, it is more appropriate to use this type of test for this group.”
The rapid antigen test is the same testing procedure used last semester, and both isolation and quarantine procedures will remain the same, with the exception of the time reduction from 14 to 10 days per New York state guidelines, according to Hubeny. Student-athletes will continue to be testing in accordance with guidance from the America East Conference as well.
Students will also see changes at the Decker Student Health Services Center. According to Lisa Loar, director of health and counseling, Decker Student Health Services Center has changed how its services are offered, including physical care, laboratory and psychiatric visits. Rather than a walk-in process, a call-in process is now offered, meaning every visit starts with telehealth contact. Loar said this is to prevent a large gathering of students in the waiting area.
“We have made this transition to protect the welfare of the student population, as it would be contraindicated during a pandemic to have unwell students in the waiting area with students who are receiving routine health services,” Loar wrote in an email. “Additionally, we are actively working to stop the spread of COVID-19 on campus and having students start health care visits remotely allows them to remain safely in place until they participate in a triage appointment.”
In addition to their prior services, Decker Student Health Services Center completes diagnostic COVID-19 testing and has completed over 2,500 COVID-19 tests since the beginning of the academic year, according to Loar. Decker Student Health Services Center will be testing both on- and off-campus students. Students must have current COVID-19 symptoms in order to call and be evaluated for testing, Loar said.
“As with any medical procedure a test has to be ordered by a qualified professional, and those students who are symptomatic will complete a screening process, that can include virtually meeting with a provider to determine if a test is warranted,” Loar wrote.
Testing operations at Decker Student Health Services Center are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. through 3:45 p.m. Starting Feb. 20, testing operations will also be available on Saturdays from 10 a.m. through 2 p.m. Other information regarding where else students can get a COVID-19 test can be found here .