Surveillance 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 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 weekly.  
     

  • All employees who are coming to any of our campuses in any capacity must participate weekly. Read HR's FAQs on employee surveillance testing.
     

  • Students and employees who have been vaccinated are still required to participate in weekly surveillance testing.
     

  • If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, received a positive PCR diagnostic test result within the past 90 days, or were diagnosed as positive for the virus by a physician within the past 90 days, you should not participate in surveillance 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 surveillance 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 surveillance 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 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 surveillance 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. Kit distribution is detailed below.  

Please use all the supplies in your current test kit before using the supplies in your new test kit. Test kits do not expire, and each new test kit must be registered. Please only submit one tube, with a completed sample, on your test day. 

Faculty, staff and students who come to any of the University’s campuses during spring semester are required to participate in weekly testing. Noncompliance will result in discipline for employees and prohibition from campus and potential discipline for students.   

During the Spring 2021 Semester, 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. Test samples are only picked up from drop boxes between noon Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday.

Note: Only students, faculty and staff of UAlbany and its related entities may participate or use the UAlbany surveillance testing program.
 

Step 1: Get your test kit

Spring 2021 kits contain 20 tubes and will cover your participation for the entire semester. Only one test kit per person is allowed.

Each new test kit must be registered. Please use up any of your remaining Fall 2020 or Intersession supplies before registering or using your Spring 2021 kit.

Residential Life staff will distribute test kits to students living on campus.

Student athletes should see their coaching staff to secure a kit.

Facilities staff should pick up a kit from their supervisor in the facilities administration building (SBA).

Students who live off campus and all other employees can pick up a test kit at one of these locations:

  • Campus Center West Information Desk, located near Starbucks

    • Kits are available at the information desk from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.
       

  • Outside Milne Hall 101

    • Kits are available outside this office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. An ID card is required to swipe into the building.
       

  • University Police Building’s lobby

    • This location is accessible 24/7.
       

Download maps of our campuses.

If you have any questions regarding test kit availability, please email [email protected].

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. 

It is essential that you register each kit you receive before you begin submitting saliva samples from it. Otherwise, there is no way to identify your saliva sample or note your participation.

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. 

Participants will receive a verification email each time they submit a saliva sample that confirms their sample was received and is being tested. This email is not your test results. 

If your saliva sample tests positive — meaning the virus was detected — you will receive a phone call or an additional 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 [email protected]

If your saliva sample tests negative — meaning the virus was not detected — you will not receive any notification beyond the sample submission verification email. 

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.
     

  • Do not include any material other than saliva in the tube. This includes water or alcohol wipes. Foreign material slows down the processing of samples and could delay your test results. Note: Intentionally including material other than saliva in your sample tube may result in disciplinary action. 
     

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 marked biohazard specimen collection bag and seal the bag. 
     

  5. 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 empty the drop boxes at 8 a.m. each morning and take all samples to the RNA Institute for testing.  

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

The drop boxes are labeled “Sample Collection Point.” Test samples are only picked up from drop boxes between noon Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday.

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
     

  • Campus Center — two locations:

    • the south basement entrance doors, outside, near the Science Library bus stop 

    • the Podium-level entry doors, outside, near the small fountain to the far right of the Campus Center entry doors
       

  • Indian Quad — in the hallway outside the dining hall 

    • Students who live in Indian Quad can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time.
       

  • State Quad — in the hallway outside the dining hall 

    • Students who live in State Quad can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time.
       

  • Colonial Quad — inside the Livingston Tower lobby

    • Students who live in Colonial Quad can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time.
       

  • Dutch Quad — inside the Stuyvesant Tower lobby

    • Students who live in Dutch Quad can use their ID card to swipe into the building at any time.
       

  • Freedom Quad — outside of D3
     

  • 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.
       

Alumni Quad

  • Waterbury Hall — outside of the main entrance
     

Downtown Campus 

  • Draper Hall — outside, to the left of the main entrance on the Western Avenue side of the building
     

East Campus (Health Sciences Campus) 

  • George Education Center (GEC), School of Public Health — outside of the main entrance

 

Download maps of our campuses.

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

The School of Public Health (SPH) studies aggregate results that contain no personal data. The University uses 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 [email protected]
 

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. A negative test result only shows you were negative at the time you submitted the sample. It doesn’t prove you are currently negative. 

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

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. 

Test samples are only picked up from drop boxes between noon Sunday and 8 a.m. Thursday.
 

What to do if there is a problem with your kit

Your Spring 2021 test kit includes more than enough supplies for the entire semester, even if you lose a tube or are required to participate in surge testing. 

Given the national shortage of supplies, it is critical that you take care of your kit and take only one kit for the Spring 2021 semester. 

Please contact [email protected] 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 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, surveillance 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.