Surveillance Testing

Register a Surveillance 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. 
 

Who is required to participate in surveillance testing?

Any student or employee who is not yet fully vaccinated, and who is coming to any UAlbany campus in any capacity, must participate in weekly surveillance testing until they are fully vaccinated. 

To be considered fully vaccinated, individuals must satisfy all three of these requirements: 

  1. You must have received all required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

  2. At least two weeks needs to have passed since your final shot. 

  3. You must have submitted proof of vaccination to UAlbany. 

All students with approved vaccination exemptions and all employees who have not submitted proof of vaccination must participate in weekly surveillance testing. 

Noncompliance will result in discipline for employees, and prohibition from campus (including de-registration from classes) and potential discipline for students. Students who fail to comply with testing requirements, and are therefore de-registered from classes, will not be issued any refund for tuition or fees for the semester. 

Faculty and staff should review HR’s employee surveillance testing FAQs for more information. 

Who can voluntarily participate in surveillance testing?

Fully vaccinated students and employees may choose to participate in surveillance testing.    

Voluntary participation in the COVID-19 surveillance testing program helps give vaccinated students and employees peace of mind. Regular testing helps vaccinated individuals avoid unknowingly exposing others to COVID-19 at home and/or work. 

You are not fully vaccinated until you have received all required doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, at least two weeks have passed since your final dose, and you have submitted proof of vaccination to UAlbany. 

To encourage fully vaccinated individuals to participate in surveillance testing, the University will hold weekly $100 drawings for the remainder of the Fall 2021 semester. Fully vaccinated students who voluntarily participate will be eligible to win the weekly drawings, which will start in late October 2021. 

And, at the end of the semester, UAlbany will hold a final drawing with one $500 winner. Fully vaccinated students who voluntarily participated in weekly surveillance testing from October 18 to December 6, 2021, will be eligible to win the final drawing. 

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

Who should not participate in surveillance testing?

If you are currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, have received a positive antigen- or PCR-based diagnostic test result within the past 90 days, or have been 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. 

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

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

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. The University then determines which sample in the group is the presumed positive individual. 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 will not be contacted by the University and 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 have not submitted proof of vaccination to the University and who come to any of the University’s campuses are required to participate in weekly testing. Noncompliance will result in discipline for employees and prohibition from campus and potential discipline for students.   

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 8 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 day 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 8 a.m. Monday 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.
 

howitworks
Step 1: Get your test kit

Fall 2021 kits will cover your participation for the entire semester. If you have any remaining tubes at the end of the semester, please use the remainders during Winter Session, if you are on campus, or during the Spring 2022 semester before getting a new kit. 

Only one test kit per person is allowed at a time. Each new test kit must be registered so the University knows to whom each saliva sample belongs (see Step 2 for instructions). Please use up any of your remaining Spring 2021 or Summer 2021 supplies before registering or using your Fall 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.

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

Uptown Campus
  • Both Campus Center Information Desks 

    • Test kits are available at the Campus Center Information Desk (located in the main lobby entrance on the Academic Podium level) and at the Campus Center West Information Desk (located near Starbucks).

    • Hours for both Information Desks are as follows:

      • Sunday: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.

      • Monday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

      • Tuesday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

      • Wednesday: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

      • Thursday: 8 a.m. to Midnight

      • Friday: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

      • Saturday: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

    • Note: Information Desk staff members periodically conduct building rounds. If you find the desk is empty during business hours, a staff member will return shortly.
       

  • University Police Building’s lobby

    • This location is accessible 24/7.
       

Downtown Campus
  • Dean’s Office for the School of Social Welfare

    • Test kits are available in Richardson 101 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
       

  • Dean’s Office for the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy

    • Test kits are available in Milne Hall from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
       

Health Sciences Campus
  • Dean’s Office for the School of Public Health

    • Test kits are available in the George Education Center (GEC) Admissions Office from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

 

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

Note: Please use up any of your remaining Spring 2021 or Summer 2021 supplies before registering or using your Fall 2021 kit. 

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 from the Office of Emergency Management, 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 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.
     

  • 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, which should be once per week.
     

  • 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 will 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. Please ensure the label remains on the tube. All numbers of the barcode must be visible and should not be wiped away.
     

  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: Drop off your saliva sample" 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.  

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

  • Physical Education Building Lobby
     

  • Indigenous Quad — in the hallway outside the dining hall  

    • Students who live in Indigenous 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 Apartments — outside of D3 
      

  • Liberty Terrace — inside the main lobby
     

  • 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 

  • Draper Hall — outside, on the Western Avenue side of the building. Go up Draper Hall’s exterior stairs and the drop box is on the left side, near the main entrance.
     

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 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 after 8 a.m., Monday through Thursday.
 

What to do if there is a problem with your kit

Your Fall 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. Please use up any of your remaining Spring 2021 or Summer 2021 supplies before registering or using your Fall 2021 kit.

Given the national shortage of supplies, it is critical that you take care of your kit and take only one kit for Fall 2021. Please also only submit one tube at a time.

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, including vaccinated individuals, allows 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.