Pooled Testing

Register Your Test Kit

Surveillance Testing at UAlbany 

As part of our efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, the University at Albany has developed a comprehensive and ongoing pooled surveillance testing program. 

  • All students who are studying, working or visiting any of UAlbany’s campuses — regardless of whether they live on or off campus — must participate.  
     

  • All employees represented by UUP, CSEA, PEF and PBANYS, as well as M/C, RF, affiliated corporation employees and volunteers, who are on any of our campuses in any capacity must participate. Read HR's FAQs on employee pooled testing.
     

  • Any other campus employees who are on any of our campuses in any capacity are strongly encouraged to participate.
     

  • If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have previously received a positive PCR diagnostic test result, or were diagnosed as positive for the virus by a physician, you should not participate in pooled testing.
     

  • Positive antibody test results suggest, but are not proof of, a prior infection, so they do not constitute a diagnosis. If you have only received a positive antibody test, you should still participate in pooled testing.

Learn how the program works — including how to get a test kit and what to do if you miss a testing day — below. 

As a thank you to our participants, each week one student’s name will be randomly chosen from the pooled testing submissions to win a $500 OneUAlbany Award. This grant can be used to pay for non-tuition expenses, such as fees, on-campus housing and/or meal plans. Employees who are taking classes will also be eligible to win.

Please continue to monitor your UAlbany email and this website for important updates.

 

What is pooled surveillance testing? 

Surveillance testing is one way to check the health of our overall community and get ahead of a potential outbreak.  

Testing large numbers of people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms allows us to better understand how many people in total — not just those who have been diagnosed — have the infection.  

In UAlbany’s pooled testing program, saliva samples are diluted, heat inactivated, grouped and processed by a lab to determine whether this pool is positive for the virus. 

The individuals in each pool are randomly selected to protect confidentiality and scientific validity. 

If a pool tests positive, at least one of the people in that group has the virus. An authorized University official will then contact the individual whose sample tested positive with instructions for PCR diagnostic testing. Those in the pool who are negative for COVID-19 do not have to do anything further. 

UAlbany’s saliva test is a hybrid of Yale SalivaDirect and the University of Illinois test, which has a false positive rate of less than 0.3%. 

The testing method is being facilitated by the University’s RNA Institute in collaboration with the School of Public Health. De-identified samples are processed in the Institute’s labs.

 

How does it work? 

Participants are provided with a test kit that includes saliva sample tubes and all other necessary items. Additional kits are being distributed on campus, as described below. 

Please use all the supplies in your current test kit before using the supplies in your new test kit. 

Testing frequency increased to weekly in November and will continue weekly throughout the spring. Faculty, staff and students who continue to come to campus during Intersession (November 22, 2020 to January 29, 2021) will be tested weekly.  

Starting November 1, please adhere to this schedule:
 

Last Names Beginning With Testing Day Time Frame to Submit Your Saliva Sample
A to D Sunday between noon Sunday and 9:30 a.m. Monday
E to K Monday between noon Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday
L to Q Tuesday between noon Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday
R to Z Wednesday between noon Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday


If you are not on campus for your scheduled testing day, you must submit a saliva sample the next time you are on campus. Please do not collect your saliva sample until the day you are coming to campus. You can only drop off saliva samples between noon Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday. 
 

Step 1: Get your testing kit

Please use all the supplies in your current test kit before getting a new kit. Test kits do not expire.

You should only submit one tube each time you test.
 

End of Semester Testing

The last week of routine Fall 2020 testing for all students is November 15 to 19.

This testing week will satisfy students end-of-semester / departure testing requirement. Please submit your final pooled surveillance saliva sample at least two days, but no more than four days, before your planned departure date.   

Students departing campus do not need to test the week of November 22.
 

Intercession Testing

Intersession testing will start on November 22, 2020 and continue through January 29, 2021. 

  • All faculty and staff who will be on any of UAlbany’s three campuses during the Intercession must continue to participate in the surveillance testing program. If you do not plan to be on campus during this timeframe, there is no need to pick up a kit.
     
  • All students approved for Intercession housing must continue to participate in the surveillance testing program for the duration that they remain on campus.

For the week of November 22, there will be no formalized schedule for surveillance testing. The participants identified above should submit a sample anytime between noon Sunday, November 22, and 8 a.m. Tuesday, November 24.

Beginning the week of November 29, participants should continue to follow the weekly testing schedule, which is organized alphabetically by last name.
 

Last Names Beginning With Testing Day Time Frame to Submit Your Saliva Sample
A to D Sunday between noon Sunday and 9:30 a.m. Monday
E to K Monday between noon Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday
L to Q Tuesday between noon Tuesday and 8 a.m. Wednesday
R to Z Wednesday between noon Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday


During Intersession, there will be no weekly testing reminders. Participants must remember their testing day. If you miss your testing day or are not on campus that day, please submit your saliva sample the next time you are on campus.
 

Intersession Test Kits

Intersession test kits contain eight tubes. Please take only one Intersession kit per person. New kits will be issued for the Spring 2021 semester. 
 

Test Kits for Students Approved for Intersession Housing

Any student living in on-campus housing during Intersession must participate in pooled surveillance testing. 

Residential Life staff will begin delivering Intersession test kits to students who have been approved for Intersession Housing on November 20, 2020. Kits will be delivered directly to students’ rooms, suites and apartments. 
 

Test Kits for Employees and Off-Campus Students

Any student living off-campus who will be on any of UAlbany’s campuses for any reason during Intersession must participate in pooled surveillance testing. 

Any faculty or staff member who will be working on any of UAlbany’s campuses during Intersession must participate in pooled surveillance testing. 

If you do not plan to be on campus during Intersession, there is no need to pick up a kit.

Off-campus students and employees can pick up an Intersession test kit at one of the following contactless pickup locations: 

Uptown Campus

  • University Police Headquarters lobby, which is open 24/7
     

Downtown Campus

  • Richardson 102, outside the School of Social Welfare Dean’s Office

    • Richardson Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You'll need to use your ID card to swipe into the building.
       

Health Science Campus

  • George Education Center 100, outside the School of Public Health Dean’s Office

    • The George Education Center is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You'll need to use your ID card to swipe into the building. (Note: This location is only accessible to faculty, staff and students who work and/or take classes at this facility.)

 

Download maps of our campuses.

Step 2: Register your kit immediately

You need to register your testing kit online immediately after receiving it. Registering your kit starts the process for you as a participant, so this must be done within 24 hours

Each kit contains a unique kit number and registration code, as well as the supplies you will need to provide saliva samples. 

When you register online, you will be asked to input your kit’s number and registration code, read the program overview and consent form, and then provide an electronic signature. 

Once you’ve registered, be sure to store your test kit in a clean, safe place. 

Step 3: Monitor your phone and email regularly

After you’ve registered your kit, you are signed up as a participant. Participants will get important updates about the program and their results via phone and email. 

If your saliva sample tests positive — meaning the virus was detected — you will receive a phone call or email from an authorized University employee, who will guide you through obtaining a PCR diagnostic test and staying safe.

You’ll generally be notified of a positive result 48 hours after your sample was sent to the lab. Please look for the caller ID "UNIV Albany" or an email from ContactTracker@albany.edu

Note: You will not receive a notification if your results are negative. 

Step 4: Collect your saliva sample on your testing days

Watch a video on how to properly collect a saliva sample.

Please keep these items in mind: 

  • Collect your saliva sample no earlier than noon on your testing day and drop off your saliva sample that day or before 8 a.m. the next day.  (Note: If your testing day is a Sunday, you have until 9:30 a.m. on Monday to drop off your saliva sample.)
     

  • Do not eat, drink, gargle or brush your teeth in the 30 minutes before collecting your saliva sample. 
     

  • Collect your saliva sample in a clean and private space, such as your home, car or sanitized bathroom. Be sure your kit is on a clean surface. 
     

  • Only submit one test tube each time you test.
     

Steps for collecting a sample

  1. Take a specimen collection bag, test tube and alcohol wipe from your kit. 
     

  2. Collect your saliva in the provided test tube and fill to the 1mL mark (where the pointed part ends).  
     

  3. Cap the test tube securely and wipe the outside of the test tube with the provided alcohol wipe. 
     

  4. Place the test tube inside the specimen collection bag and seal the bag. 
     

  5. Complete the date field on the bag’s label using a pen or permanent marker. This should be the day you collected your saliva. 
     

  6. Drop the completed specimen bag at the drop box location most convenient for you. (See Step 5 below for a list of drop box locations). 
     

Having problems collecting a sample? These tips will help: 

  • Please collect saliva that pools in the front of your mouth naturally. Don’t “hock” or produce saliva by force from the back of your throat.
     

  • It may take about 1 minute to collect enough saliva to dribble in the tube. Thinking of your favorite food or citrus may help speed this process up. 
     

  • It is normal for saliva to foam. You should only fill the pointed section of the tube with saliva. 

Step 5: Drop off your saliva sample

You must drop off your saliva sample before 8 a.m. the day after you collect it. (That means, if you collect your sample at 1 p.m. Tuesday, you must drop it off before 8 a.m. on Wednesday.) 

That’s because couriers will empty the drop boxes at 8 a.m. each morning and take all samples to the RNA Institute for pooled testing.  

Note: If your testing day is a Sunday, you have until 9:30 a.m. on Monday to drop off your saliva sample. 

You can drop off your saliva sample at the location most convenient for you: 

Uptown Campus (Main Campus) 

  • University Administration Building (UAB) — outside, to the left of the main entrance
     

  • Indian Quad — Dining Hall 

    • Students who live on campus can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time. The drop box is in the hallway outside the dining hall.
       

  • Campus Center — three locations:

    • the west entrance doors, outside, near the bus stop

    • outside the Dean of Students Office, CC 130

    • the Podium-level entry doors, outside, near the small fountain
       

  • State Quad — Dining Hall 

    • Students who live on campus can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time. The drop box is in the hallway outside the dining hall.
       

  • Empire Commons — Commons Building 

    • The Commons Building is open from 8:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Friday, and from noon to midnight on Saturday and Sunday.
       

Downtown Campus 

  • Husted Café — Hallway 

    • Husted Hall is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You'll need to use your ID card to swipe into the building.
       

East Campus (Health Sciences Campus) 

  • George Education Center (GEC), School of Public Health — Lobby 

    • GEC is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You'll need to use your ID card to swipe into the building. (Note: This location is only accessible to faculty, staff and students who work and/or take classes at this facility.)
       

Download maps of our campuses.

The drop boxes will be labeled “Sample Collection Point.” They will be available from noon Sunday to 8 a.m. Thursday.

Saliva samples and individual data will be destroyed when their epidemiological analysis is complete and participants in positive pools have been contacted. 

The School of Public Health will study aggregate results that contain no personal data. The University will use SPH’s reports as a guide for decision-making. 

Step 6: Getting your results

Positive results

If your saliva sample tests positive — meaning the virus was detected — you will receive a phone call or email from an authorized University employee, who will guide you through obtaining a PCR diagnostic test and staying safe.

You’ll generally be notified of a positive result 48 hours after your sample was sent to the lab. Please look for the caller ID "UNIV Albany" or an email from ContactTracker@albany.edu
 

Negative results

If your sample tests negative — meaning the virus was not detected — you will not receive any notification. 

Please remember that you could have been exposed to the virus after submitting your saliva sample, which means a negative result is not a guarantee that you are currently negative. 

That’s why participating in pooled surveillance testing is not a substitute for mask wearing, hand washing, physical distancing, staying home when sick and all other safety protocols. 

It’s also important that you continue to participate in surveillance testing throughout the semester.

What to do if you miss a testing day

If you accidentally miss a testing day, you can wait until the next time you are on campus that week to collect and submit your saliva sample. 

However, please do not collect your saliva sample until the day you are coming to campus. 

You can only drop off saliva samples between noon Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday. 
 

What to do if there is a problem with your kit

If you lose your kit, run out of supplies or are missing supplies, you can simply pick up another kit on campus anytime during the semester. Find a list of pick-up locations in Step 1 above.

Once you have a new kit, please discard your old kit and register your new kit immediately. You may receive two sets of testing dates (one for each kit you registered) but please only test with your current kit when asked and disregard the other emails.

Contact saliva_test@albany.edu with any questions.

 

Why is this important? 

COVID-19 often presents without any symptoms, particularly among younger individuals. However, people without symptoms can still spread the virus.  

Testing people without symptoms will allow the University to identify pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic cases before cases increase undetected — a health check-up for our community. 

The University is using pooled surveillance testing to detect, understand and control the spread of COVID-19 in our campus community. This program is not intended to diagnose individuals who are symptomatic or have previously tested positive for COVID-19.   

Diagnostic testing is available through a Student Health Services appointment or the New York State Department of Health. For more information, please visit our Health & Safety page. 

Together, pooled testing and diagnostic testing form a strong framework to help us keep our campus healthy and safe. Thank you for participating. 

 

Note: If you feel sick, please contact your doctor (Student Health Services for students or your primary care physician for employees). If you have severe symptoms — such as high fever, cough or shortness of breath — please call 911.