Pool Testing FAQ

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?

Most individual students are selected at random. However, we are also using risk data from a variety of sources (wastewater testing, county health department data, trends in current positive cases, etc.) to inform our process of identifying test pool populations.

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.

  • 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. Any cost not covered by insurance will be paid for by the university. The individual who is testing will not be liable for payment.
  • Review this instructional Swabbing Technique video.

What if I do not own a smart phone?

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 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.

When registering for a surveillance account, there is a field for “Institution ID.” What is this?

This is asking for you SUNY Cortland ID# (your C#). If you do not know your C#, you can find it on the front of your SUNY Cortland ID card.

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 Alumni Arena on time for your scheduled appointment.
  • Bring your SUNY Cortland ID and mobile phone.
  • Remember your assigned testing pool (A, B, C, or D) and appointment time.

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 pool that tests positive for COVID-19, we will contact you 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 (individuals) we will contact you again to update you about your status.  Self-isolation requires you to remain in your residence and refrain from either having visitors 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 still pick up a meal, but you are encouraged to limit contact with others to the greatest extent possible during your self-isolation.

I participated in pool testing today. What do I put on my daily student COVID-19 screening when responding to the question about awaiting test results?

Students participating in the pool testing program do not need to check the box indicating “I have been tested and am awaiting test results” for the daily student screening.

When will I be notified about my results?

We expect to receive your pool test results 24 to 36 hours after you participated in pool testing.  If you are included in a pool that tests positive, a member of the Student Health Services team will contact you directly.  Follow-up reflex testing results will be received in another 24 to 26 hours. We will then contact you directly to update you on your individual results and status.

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

Individuals with a history of COVID-19 (those who have previously tested positive for the virus, or have tested positive for the antibodies) should not participate in the testing. If that describes you, and you are selected for pool testing, please email covidscreening@cortland.edu and inform us that you will not be participating.

What if I previously tested negative for COVID-19 and/or COVID-19 antibodies?

Individuals who have previously tested negative for COVID-19 or the COVID-19 antibodies should participate in the pool testing program on the identified day and time of their appointment.

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 county 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 covidscreening@cortland.edu and inform us that you will not be participating.

I am taking all online classes this semester. Do I need to be tested?

Online students who are still 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 when selected. 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 are an online-only student who lives outside the area and never comes to campus or has contact with members of the SUNY Cortland community, you do not need to test and may disregard the appointment email.

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, even if their assigned testing time conflicts with their student teaching work schedule. When you are informed of your testing time, please let your host teacher and college 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.  Individuals who knowingly skip the testing appointment may face student conduct action.

My test conflicts with a class time. What should I do?

Please share the testing appointment email you received with your instructor. The email will serve as documentation that you have been selected for pool testing. The email clearly states the day and time for which you have been selected.  The testing process typically takes a total of 20 minutes from arrival to departure. Therefore, if you have been selected for a 9 a.m. testing time, you can expect to be at the testing site from 9 a.m. until 9:20 a.m.

If I do not like the time I was assigned, can I change my time or show up at a different time?

Unfortunately, we are unable to accommodate changes to individual testing appointments.

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 covidscreening@cortland.edu for further guidance.