A new agreement has been made that allows for the continued COVID-19 testing of staff and faculty in the SUNY system.

On Nov. 27, SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras and Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA) President Mary E. Sullivan announced that an agreement granting free and mandatory COVID-19 testing for CSEA-represented faculty and staff working in the SUNY system would be extended from the fall 2020 semester to June 30, 2021. CSEA is a New York state-based labor union that represents employees in state and local governments in addition to employees in school districts, child care and the private sector. This announcement follows a similar agreement made between SUNY and United University Professions, a higher education union, for represented employees.

According to Malatras, SUNY has conducted 544,190 COVID-19 tests, with a 0.52 percent positivity rate.

All members of the CSEA labor union who work at state-operated facilities in-person will continue to be regularly tested for COVID-19, free of charge, during regular work hours. The employee testing protocols will be developed by each campus and the local CSEA representatives. The frequency of the employee testing will be the same as student testing, with faculty and staff members participating in the same surveillance testing protocols.

Malatras thanked the CSEA-represented employees for their help with the transition to remote learning for the remainder of the semester.

“Regular mandated testing will continue to be a part of our strategy to keep campuses open, and, thanks to the continued heroic efforts, ingenuity and innovation of Upstate Medical University, we must continue testing everyone on campus,” Malatras said. “We are another step further to that end with [Sullivan] joining me in providing testing for all of our CSEA employees.”

Sullivan said she appreciated the CSEA-represented employees, as they are the foundation of all the SUNY facilities and help them function.

“Continuing regular testing for them will help ensure our entire SUNY system is focused on safe operations to keep students learning and workers working,” Sullivan said. “We appreciate collaborating with SUNY administration to protect our campus communities.”

Javier Guadalupe, an undeclared freshman, said he believes the continued regular testing for faculty and staff will be overall beneficial and will help make the campus safer.

“I think that it’s a really good idea [to continue routine testing],” Guadalupe said. “If students need to get tested, then the people who work for [the University] should have to be tested for [COVID-19] too. I think it would make us a lot safer, especially since we come back in the middle of the winter and flu season for the spring semester.”

Addison Phoenix, an undeclared freshman, agreed with continuing the regular testing for CSEA-represented employees and argued there should be even more testing than there already was.

“If this is just an extension of what they had for the past semester, then it might not even be enough,” Phoenix said. “If anything, they should test everyone, not just the faculty, more than they already are. I think they did a pretty good job for the fall semester when it comes to containing [COVID-19], but if they test everyone, maybe once every two weeks, or something like that, then it would be even easier to control the spread.”

Malatras thanked Sullivan for her leadership and the members of the CSEA for helping students over the fall 2020 semester.

“Working together we can continue to protect each other and keep this virus contained,” Malatras said.