Frequently Asked Questions

Below are responses to the commonly asked questions we have been receiving from students, families, faculty, staff and the community about our Spring 2021 reopening.



Pool testing

What is “pool testing”?

Pool testing is a form of COVID-19 surveillance testing. During pool testing, participants at the testing site will perform a self-swab to collect a saliva sample. Individual saliva samples are then pooled together into groups of up to 12 individuals. Analysis of samples is then performed at Upstate Medical University. If a pool tests positive, follow-up testing known as “reflex testing” is conducted on the individual swabs collected from people in that pool in order to detect the specific member(s) who are positive for COVID-19.

Why/how was I selected for pool testing?


All SUNY Cortland students living in university-operated housing, and all off-campus students attending in-person courses or activities, or accessing facilities/resources on the SUNY Cortland campus, are required to participate in weekly testing.


Employees who report to work on campus for some or all of their work obligation also will be required to complete weekly testing. This requirement applies even if the employee is not scheduled to be on campus the day of their appointment or does not otherwise intend to be on campus that week.

What do I need to do prior to arriving for my testing appointment?

Create a COVID-19 Surveillance Account and register online the day before your testing appointment. Once you have created an account, you will log back into that same account for all future tests.

  • When the surveillance account asks for “Institution ID,” enter your SUNY Cortland ID number (your C-number), which can be found on the front of your SUNY Cortland ID card.
  • It is preferred that you register using the same mobile phone that you will have at the testing site. You will need to open your account info on your mobile phone during the testing process.
  • You will be asked to provide medical insurance information when you create your COVID-19 Surveillance Account. If you do not have this information available, or you do not have medical insurance, please enter “TBD” in the applicable fields. Your insurance will not be billed for the pool testing. If follow-up testing is required, insurance billing may be necessary.
  • Watch the instructional swabbing technique video.

What if I do not own a smartphone?

Please use a personal computer or tablet to complete the registration process in advance of the testing appointment. When you arrive for the assigned testing appointment, please bring with you the personal computer or tablet, or inform one of the staff members that you do not have a smart phone. We will assist you with the rest of the process at the testing site.

What do I need to do on the day of my testing appointment?

On the day of your scheduled testing, please:

  • Do NOT eat or drink anything (including gum, mints and lozenges) within 30 minutes of reporting for testing.
  • Do NOT smoke, vape or use smokeless tobacco for 30 minutes prior to testing.
  • Do NOT brush teeth or use mouthwash within three hours of testing.
  • Arrive at the Student Life Center on time for your scheduled appointment.
  • Bring your SUNY Cortland ID and mobile phone.
  • Remember your assigned testing day and time.

How long will my appointment take?

Especially in the morning hours, you should expect to be at the testing site no more than 20 minutes and most likely less than that. The actual self-swabbing takes less than one minute.

Do I need to self-quarantine or self-isolate after I participate in the pool testing program?

There is no quarantine or isolation required on the day you participate in pool testing. If we learn that you are included in a positive pool, we will contact you via email and ask that you begin a precautionary self-isolation until we can identify which specific member(s) of the pool have tested positive. Once we have identified the positive individual(s) we will contact you again to update you about your status. Self-isolation requires you to remain in your residence and refrain from having visitors and/or visiting anyone else. You must not attend in-person classes or work shifts, visit the Student Life Center, or participate in any other group activity or social gatherings during the self-isolation period. You may leave your room to get grab-n-go meals, but you should go by yourself and not eat in a dining hall or any other common spaces.

When will I be notified about my results?

We expect to receive initial pool test results 24 to 48 hours after you participate in pool testing. You will receive an email notification letting you know whether your pool is negative or positive. If you are included in a positive pool, you will be given instructions regarding the need to observe the precautionary self-isolation. Additional “reflex testing” will then be conducted on the individual samples contained in positive pools. Reflex test results will be received in another 24 to 36 hours. If the reflex test results indicate that your individual sample is positive for COVID-19, you will be contacted directly by Student Health Service or Human Resources Office staff. Individuals identified as negative through the reflex test will also receive an email update indicating permission to conclude the precautionary self-isolation period.

I previously tested positive for COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 antibodies. Should I participate in pool testing?

Individuals testing positive for COVID-19 should avoid participating in testing for 90 days following the initial positive test date. If this applies to you and you are selected for pool testing, email and inform us that you will not be participating.

Individuals who have only received a positive antibody test and have not received a positive COVID-19 test result should still participate in weekly pool testing.

I am currently in mandatory isolation/quarantine as determined by the county health department. Should I participate in testing?

Individuals currently under a mandatory period of isolation or quarantine as determined by the appropriate health officials should continue to observe the requirements of isolation/quarantine. You should not come to the testing site to participate in pool testing. Please email to inform us you will not be participating.

I am taking all online classes this semester/I am not physically reporting to campus at all. Do I need to be tested?


Online students who are coming to campus to utilize resources and/or services, visit facilities, engage in activities, eat, study, etc. are required to participate in the pool testing program. Additionally, online-only students living in campus residence halls or in off-campus housing with other SUNY Cortland students are required to participate in the pool testing program.


If you never report to campus to work or to use campus resources, you are not required to be tested. Please email and inform us that you will not be participating due to not reporting to campus at all.

I am student teaching this semester. Do I need to be tested?

Individuals engaging in student teaching who live on campus or in off-campus housing with other SUNY Cortland students are required to participate in the pool testing program.

When you are informed of your testing time, please let your host teacher and supervisor know that you will need to be out of school during that time and provide a copy of your email appointment notification as documentation. Since the testing does not take very long, you should be able to participate in student teaching for at least part of that day.

Those student teachers who do not live on campus or in off-campus housing with other SUNY Cortland students should respond to their email appointment notification about testing by stating they cannot attend because they are student teaching outside of the Central New York region (Long Island, New York City, Rochester, etc.) and attesting to the fact that they are not on campus for any reason.

If I accidentally missed my testing appointment, what can I expect will happen?

Testing is required so please make every effort to attend the assigned appointment time. Individuals who are granted an excused absence will be assigned an appointment for a future date. Students who knowingly skip the testing appointment may face student conduct action. Employees who knowingly skip their testing appointment may be subject to disciplinary sanctions consistent with their collective bargaining agreement.

Do I need to provide medical insurance information for the registration process?

When you create your COVID-19 Surveillance Testing Account you will be prompted to enter medical insurance information. Your insurance will not be billed for the initial pool testing. If you are in a pool that tests positive, insurance may be billed for the cost of the follow up reflex testing that is used to identify the specific member(s) of the pool who is/are positive for COVID-19. If you do not have medical insurance, please email for further guidance.

Further information for employees

If at any time you receive a bill from this pool testing, please contact Mary Saracene in the Human Resources Office, Miller Building, Room 301, or submit the bill electronically to

I have received the vaccine - Do I still need to do weekly pool testing?

Individuals obtaining vaccinations are not exempt from testing or any other safety protocols including face coverings and physical distancing.

If I am identified as positive, can I submit for another test to rule out a false positive?

The university will not process a retest to rule out a false positive. Please consult with your personal care provider. Any additional follow-up testing or medical care costs would be subject to coverage by your health insurance.

Quarantine and isolation (Q/I)

If I test negative while in quarantine, will that allow me to be released early?

According to guidance from the Cortland County Health Department, even if you test negative while in quarantine, you are required to complete the entire timeframe.

Am I allowed to complete my quarantine at home?

The university is following the guidance from the CCHD and is not permitted to release students from quarantine to allow transfer to another county.

Who do I talk to about my quarantine and isolation status?

You will receive a daily call from the CCHD or text from a NYS contact tracer. They will ask you a series of questions and provide a release date during the call. You will also be sent an email titled, SECURE: Health information Re: Quarantine which is the official quarantine order from the CCHD. You are able to call the CCHD at 607-758-5526 regarding your status.

Are there any consequences for leaving Cortland to quarantine at home?

Student Conduct will be involved if health and safety protocols established by the university are not being followed.

Do I need to contact my instructors to let them know that I have been required to quarantine or isolate?

You should inform your faculty if you are not going to be able to attend any in-person classes on your schedule. Upon request, Student Health Service will send documentation to your associate dean’s office.

When does my quarantine or isolation end?

Your quarantine or isolation will end at midnight. Your transportation will be arranged for the morning after your final full day in quarantine. For example, if you are told that your quarantine or isolation ends on Thursday, Jan. 21, you will be officially released from Q/I housing at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 22, and you will leave Q/I housing on the morning of Friday, Jan. 22.

Enforcement of COVID-19 guidelines

What will happen if a student is found in violation of SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 required health and safety behaviors?

SUNY Cortland is required to follow the SUNY policy for Uniform COVID-19 Student Sanctions, issued by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras on Sept. 25, 2020. Students will be held accountable for following all required health and safety behaviors, such as doing a daily screening, wearing face masks, adhering to occupancy limits and abiding by quarantine and isolation protocols.

What will happen if an employee does not follow SUNY Cortland’s COVID-19 required health and safety behaviors?

Employees found not to be adhering to required expectations can be reported to their supervisors or to the Human Resources Office. Employees who are not following the requirements above and detailed further in the Guidelines for Returning to Work on Campus may be subject to severe disciplinary sanctions consistent with their collective bargaining agreement.

Can faculty members require that students show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before attending in-person class?

Faculty can ask students to show proof of their daily screening (the “green screen”) before entering the classroom for an in-person class. The scope of the weekly testing, with the complication that students who contracted COVID-19 in the past 90 days are excluded from pool testing, means that there is no systematic way to update students’ compliance with weekly pool testing on a daily basis and distribute that list to faculty.

Dining Services

I need help to change my meal plan or my Connections/Privileges account. Who should I contact?

Please call the Cortland Auxiliary office at 607-753-2430.

I have a concern about dining, a Q/I meal or vending.

Please contact Jeff Scott, director of dining at 607-753-2424. For other Dining Services FAQs, please go to the Dining Services FAQs webpage.

Student Health Service

I need a medical appointment. Who should I contact?

Due to COVID-19, all medical and nursing services are by appointment only. There are no walk-in services. Call Student Health Service at 607-753-4811 and select option 6 to speak to a triage nurse.

Where do I go if I need medical services after hours or on the weekend?

Emergency medical care is available at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, a short distance from campus. The emergency room is staffed by physicians 24 hours a day. In addition, Cortland Convenient Careoperated by Cayuga Medical Center is located on Route 281. The student is responsible for charges incurred at off-campus medical facilities. Student Health Service has appointments from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

Student Life Center

Will the Student Life Center be open in Spring 2021?

It is our intention to have the Student Life Center open as long as we remain under the 100-case threshold mandated by SUNY. We will be following all health and safety protocols as we did in the Fall 2020 semester, which includes mandatory face masks, physical distancing, occupancy limits, proof of completing the daily screening app and frequent cleaning.

Wellness days

When are the wellness days?

Tuesday, March 9 and Wednesday, April 14.

Why are we having wellness days?

All SUNYs were required to cancel spring break in an attempt to limit travel and gatherings, which would lead to further spread of the virus. We recognize that going straight through the semester without any breaks would lead to fatigue for students and faculty. The wellness days were put in to address this.

What happens on wellness days?

There will be no classes and no assignments due on wellness days. We are requiring students to follow all protocols – limiting gatherings, requiring masks and physical distancing – on wellness days. We expect students to refrain from traveling on wellness days.