COVID-19 Update: Spring Testing Program | Testing Compliance | Exiting Quarantine

Dear Students, Families, Faculty and Staff:

This weekend, Syracuse University will reopen our residence halls and welcome the first group of students back to campus. We are writing to provide specific details about the University’s COVID-19 surveillance testing strategy for the spring semester. While mask wearing and social distancing are critical to stopping the spread of the virus, our surveillance testing program strengthens our collective efforts to safeguard individual and community health and maintain in-person learning and activities throughout the semester. Today, we will address:

  • our new testing process and method;
  • testing participation and compliance expectations; and
  • new guidelines related to testing and exiting quarantine.

As always, please know that we continue to update on a daily basis, including providing answers to your most frequently asked questions.

Spring 2021 COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Program: The University’s on-campus surveillance testing program has changed in some important ways since the fall semester, including:

  • Testing Method: The University has launched two on-campus COVID-19 testing laboratories to significantly expand routine surveillance testing. This includes implementing a new sample collection and testing method developed by the Yale University School of Public Health. This new method, called SalivaDirect, eliminates the mouth swab from the sample collection process. Instead you will deposit a saliva sample directly into a sterile test tube. The University has created a video to educate our community on the new testing center. The major benefit of this method is speed, reducing the time from test to result. Our objective is to return results to students and employees within 24 to 36 hours.
  • Frequency of Testing: In the fall, we relied on a random sampling model. For the spring, we will require that 100 percent of our residential student population (living either on campus or off campus) be tested each week. We will also provide recommended testing frequency intervals for faculty and staff that vary based on an individual’s role and position. Additional details related to expectations related to testing frequency and compliance are provided later in this message.
  • Testing Center Hours: Beginning Feb. 8, the Stadium Testing Center will operate with enhanced hours, including evening and weekend availability. Hours will be Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Wednesday evening from 5 to 10 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Participation and Compliance Expectations: To simplify and clarify testing expectations for members of our campus community, we have created six testing categories, each of which corresponds with a specific testing schedule. The categories and associated testing frequencies are as follows:


Testing for Students Is Mandatory. Students will be notified by email and text message of the date by when to get tested at the Stadium Testing Center.

  • Category 1: (Mandatory) All undergraduate and graduate students residing in Syracuse University-owned and operated housing; all resident advisors working within/routinely accessing Syracuse University-owned and operated housing:
    • Once weekly minimum, or as directed given special circumstances.
  • Category 2: (Mandatory) All undergraduate and graduate students residing off campus who are routinely accessing campus services and facilities:
    • Once weekly minimum, or as directed given special circumstances.
  • Category 3: (Mandatory) All members of the Greek community residing in Greek houses:
    • Once weekly minimum, or as directed given special circumstances.

Faculty and Staff:

Testing for faculty and staff is strongly encouraged, and the recommended frequency of testing is as follows based on the employee’s role and position:

  • Category 4: All faculty teaching in-person classes; staff assigned to student-facing roles (i.e. residence hall directors, food services, janitorial, Department of Public Safety, some roles on the student experience team, etc.):
    • Every two weeks minimum, within 14 days of prior test.
  • Category 5: All other faculty and staff routinely accessing campus, but not assigned to student-facing roles:
    • Monthly minimum, within 30 days of prior test.
  • Category 6: Faculty and staff residing in Central New York, but teaching remotely/not routinely accessing campus:
    • No minimum testing requirement; testing accessible based on employee preference and/or as directed given special circumstances.

The Stadium Testing Center will also continue to support on-demand testing for all members of our community, including family members of our employees, during normal operating hours.

Frequent testing reminders will be sent to students to support full compliance with the surveillance testing program. If a student becomes non-compliant, the University will take the following actions:

  • First Violation: The student will be blocked from accessing all University systems (e.g., campus WiFi network, MySlice, course registrations and Blackboard). This block will remain in place until the student complies with the mandatory surveillance testing requirement. Once the student is tested, systems access will be restored, typically within 30 minutes or less.
  • Second Violation: The student will be blocked from accessing all University systems. The block on access to University systems will remain in place until the student complies with the mandatory surveillance testing requirement. Once the student is tested, systems access will be restored within 30 minutes or less.
  • Third Violation: The student will be blocked from accessing all University systems and receive an automatic referral to the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities. Sanctions for a third violation may include interim suspension and/or probation.

Last semester, too many students disregarded repeated requests to participate in surveillance testing. That indifference undermined the actions of the majority of our students, who routinely demonstrated their commitment to health and safety by being tested on a regular basis.

Testing and Clearance to Exit Quarantine: The New York State Department of Health has adopted a recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that reduces the mandatory quarantine period for those possibly exposed to COVID-19 from 14 days to 10 days. As such, this semester, students and employees directed to a mandatory quarantine by a county health department (in which the diagnostic test is administered) will be issued a 10-day quarantine order.

The CDC guidance also mandates that any individual exiting quarantine after 10 days, must also follow enhanced health precautions (i.e., limiting contact with others, health monitoring, etc.) for a period of an additional four days due to elevated risk. Effective Monday, Feb. 1, the University will introduce an enhanced testing protocol for students and employees subject to a 10-day quarantine order. Specifically:

  • For Students: Students who receive a mandatory quarantine order will:
    • Receive a COVID test on the sixth or seventh day of their quarantine period as directed by the COVID Project Management Office.
    • If that test is negative, the student will continue in quarantine status and exit quarantine status after the 10-day requirement has expired.
    • If that test is positive, the student will transition from quarantine to a mandatory isolation status for a period of 10 days.
  • For Employees: Employees who receive a mandatory quarantine order will:
    • Receive a COVID test on the fifth or sixth day of their quarantine period.
    • Receive a test on the tenth day of their quarantine.
    • Only if both tests are negative will the employee be cleared by the University to return to work.
    • The University will provide impacted employees access to testing and return to work clearance will be coordinated via HR Shared Services. It remains the employee responsibility and University policy that employees notify HR Shared Services of a positive test.

Thank you in advance for your close attention to the important changes we have made in our COVID-19 surveillance testing program. Your support and commitment to these efforts is critical to ensuring a safe and meaningful campus experience. As always, continue to watch for email updates regarding the Spring 2021 semester.


Andrew R. Gordon
Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resource Officer

  1. Michael Haynie
    Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation

Robert D. Hradsky, Ed.D.
Vice President for the Student Experienc