Surveillance Testing

Register a Surveillance Test Kit

Surveillance Testing at UAlbany 

All students and employees can voluntarily participate in UAlbany’s surveillance testing program. Participation is no longer required of any students or employees.  

Who should not participate in surveillance testing?

The following people should not participate in surveillance testing:

  • Anyone currently experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

  • Anyone who has received a positive at-home, antigen- or PCR-based diagnostic test result, or a positive surveillance test result, within the past 90 days.

  • Anyone who has been diagnosed as positive for the virus by a physician within the past 90 days.

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 may 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.

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


How does surveillance testing work? 

When You Submit Your Saliva Sample When Your Saliva Sample Will Be Tested
Between noon Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday Tuesday
Between noon Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday Thursday

Saliva samples submitted after 8 a.m. Thursday are still viable and will be tested Tuesday.

To participate in surveillance testing, follow these instructions:

Step 1: Get your test kit

Kits will cover your required participation for the entire semester/term. Each new test kit must be registered so the University knows to whom each saliva sample belongs (see Step 2 for instructions).

If you have any remaining tubes at the end of the semester/term, please use the remainders during the next semester/term before getting a new kit. 

Students and employees can pick up a test kit at one of these locations:

  • Uptown Campus: Kits can be picked up at the Information Desk on the Podium level and the Information Desk in the Basement near Starbucks in the Campus Center.

  • 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.

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.

Note: 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.

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: Collect your saliva sample

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

Please keep these items in mind: 

  • Please only submit one tube, with a completed sample, per week. 

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

  • Collect your weekly 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.

  • 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 4 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 one 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 4: Drop off your saliva sample

If you are required to participate in surveillance testing, you must submit one saliva sample per week. Use the chart above to determine when your saliva sample will be tested, based on when you dropped it off.

You must drop off your saliva sample before 8 a.m. the day after you collect it, because couriers empty the drop boxes after 8 a.m. Tuesday and Thursday, then take all samples to the RNA Institute for testing. The drop boxes are labeled “Sample Collection Point.”

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 

Downtown Campus 

  • Husted Hall — outside, near the building's Western Avenue entrance. Go up Husted Hall’s exterior stairs, or use the Accessibility Route, and the collection box is up 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 with positive results 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 5: Get your results

Please closely monitor your phone and UAlbany email inbox. You'll get important updates about the program and your results via phone and email from the Office of Emergency Management.  

You will no longer receive a verification email each time you submit a saliva sample that confirms it was received by the lab and is being tested.

Positive 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. They will review your isolation guidelines, recommend that you obtain a PCR diagnostic test and guide you through 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. 

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.


Additional Information

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 lab 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 to isolate and seek recommended 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 and communicated to the Office of Emergency Management for case management.

Why is surveillance testing 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 spread 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.

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