Health & Safety

Our three-tiered testing approach (pre-arrival, symptomatic, and surveillance) was a key part of our success in controlling the spread of COVID-19 during the fall, and our medical team has recommended that we increase the surveillance testing program in the spring.  The College has expanded its surveillance testing program for the Spring 2021 semester. All students who will be on campus this semester and are not vaccinated will be required to participate in COVID-19 surveillance testing every 14 days. Students who do not comply with this requirement will lose clearance to attend in-person classes and/or come to campus. We believe this enhanced testing protocol will allow Marist students to enjoy more campus activities, which the Student Affairs team is currently planning.  We know last semester was challenging, and we want to be particularly attentive to students’ wellbeing, self-care, and stress relief.



Ongoing surveillance testing is particularly important to identify individuals in our community who harbor the coronavirus but show no symptoms and may be capable of transmitting the virus to others. We outline the plans for surveillance testing below, understanding that we may need to make adjustments as we monitor COVID-19 infection on our campus and in our local community.



According to the CDC, “Surveillance testing is generally used to monitor for a community- or population-level occurrence, such as an infectious disease outbreak, or to characterize the occurrence once detected, such as looking at the incidence and prevalence of the occurrence. Surveillance testing is used to gain information at a population level, rather than an individual level, and results of surveillance testing can be returned in aggregate to the requesting institution. Surveillance testing may sample a certain percentage of a specific population to monitor for increasing or decreasing prevalence and to determine the population effect from community interventions, such as social distancing.”



Implementation at Marist

Throughout the semester, students, faculty, and staff will be notified that they have been identified for surveillance testing. The samples used for surveillance testing will be collected via saliva swabbing, which is less invasive than nasopharyngeal swab tests.  While the tests will be run at SUNY Upstate Medical Center, the surveillance testing plan is designed specifically for Marist using in-house expertise.  The plan has been reviewed by our Reopening Medical Committee, chaired by Dean of Science, Dr. Alicia Slater, whose physician members are Dr. Stephen Katz and Dr. Erin McLaughlin.  The statistical sampling methods are being developed by Dr. Alan Labouseur, of the School of Computer Science and Mathematics with guidance from Dr. Lee Miringoff and Dr. Barbara Carvalho of the Marist Institute of Public Opinion. The tests will be administered by Marist School of Science faculty under the direction of Dean Slater.  

Those selected for testing will be given instructions for where and when to report for testing. Testing will typically occur Monday-Sunday at various locations around campus. For more details, see the Frequently Asked Questions below.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who will be tested and how often?

Residential students, off-campus students including adult and graduate students, and employees will be tested once every 14 days, with additional surge testing as necessary.

Is testing mandatory?

For students who have not yet received their COVID-19 vaccination, surveillance testing is mandatory. If you are selected for testing and have not been vaccinated you are required to participate.  This is essential to establish the complete picture of the Marist community for health purposes and allow for accurate statistical modeling of the sample. Students who do not comply with this requirement will lose clearance to attend in-person classes and/or come to campus. If you are selected and have questions or concerns, please contact the Vice President of Student Affairs (students) or the Office of Human Resources (employees). 

What do I need to do be ready for testing? 

If you are selected for testing, you will be asked to register at prior to arriving at the testing location.  You will also be informed of the testing location to be used on the day of your test. 

On the day of testing: 

  • 3 hours prior: Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash for at least three hours before your testing time. 
  • 30 minutes prior: Do not eat or drink anything, including chewing gum, mints or lozenges, within 30 minutes of reporting. Abstain from smoking, vaping, or using smokeless tobacco products for 30 minutes prior to the test.

What do I need to bring with me to the test?

Your Marist College ID and personal mobile device. You cannot be tested without both of these items.

How will samples be collected?

Our surveillance testing method uses saliva swab tests which are less costly and invasive than other collection methods. Individuals will collect their own saliva samples via swabbing under supervision. A video of the collection method is available here:

Where will my sample be processed?

Surveillance samples will be sent to our surveillance testing partner (SUNY Upstate Medical Center) each day.

How long does it take to get results?

Results from samples received by 3 pm will be received within 24 hours.

How are we able to receive results so quickly?

SUNY Upstate Medical Center uses a pooled testing approach designed to test large numbers of individuals quickly. There is a minimum of 12 individuals per pool. Pooling samples allows for many samples to be processed at once and decreases turnaround time.

What do I need to do while I await my surveillance test results?

When you are tested as part of the surveillance plan, you may continue normal activities (with strict adherence to mask wearing and social distancing) unless you are contacted by the Surveillance Testing Team to self-quarantine and schedule a follow-up test.

If my sample is pooled with others, how will I know my individual result?

If a pool of samples tests negative, all individuals in that pool are presumed negative. If a pool of samples tests positive, all individuals in that pool will be contacted to schedule an individual diagnostic follow-up test with instructions to self-quarantine until those test results are known. Special note: the use of a pooling procedure means that SUNY Upstate Medical Center will not have access to any individual health information. Individual results must be obtained via follow-up tests.

What happens if my follow-up test is positive?

Should the diagnostic test be positive, the Marist Contact Tracing team will be notified to begin case management and contact tracing. The Dutchess County Department of Health will also be notified. Positive individuals must follow NY state mandatory isolation guidelines.

Do I have to pay for a surveillance test?

There is no cost for any component of surveillance testing.  Marist College is covering the costs associated with this testing plan.