Stony Brook University has experienced a small spike in student cases of COVID-19 over the past few weeks.
From Feb. 4 to Feb. 24, 117 students tested positive, according to the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. The university has put in place strict guidelines to crack down on the spread of COVID-19 on campus this semester. Residential students are required to be tested twice a week, commuter students once a week and on-campus faculty and staff once a week.
“We anticipated an increase in positive cases as students returned to campus from winter break,” the university wrote in an email on Feb. 25. “That’s why we ramped up our mandatory and frequent testing of resident students to twice a week (two times the New York State requirement), with commuter students, faculty and staff testing once per week.”
In an email to The Statesman, Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Rick Gatteau said that the university believes that these cases are not connected by any single event.
“The University continues to discourage gatherings and is addressing positive students and identifying potential exposures expeditiously,” Gatteau wrote. “Additionally, we have ample contact tracing, quarantine and isolation space to effectively and promptly address these positive cases. Preventing the spread of COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility and our collective effort is what will help ensure a successful spring semester and keep cases down.”
Since testing began at the start of the semester, the university’s student testing positivity rate has only reached a max of 1% a week. The rate is well below New York State’s current guidance for college and university campus in-person learning, which states that campuses testing at least 25% of total students, faculty and staff weekly will not have to stop in-person learning unless their positivity rate reaches 5% over two weeks.
The university also wrote in the email on Feb. 25 that they are exploring new COVID-19 testing options with a new pooled testing in the Student Activities Center Ballroom A. The test involves collecting saliva samples in straws rather than in swabs. Pre registration for these tests are not required and the university is encouraging commuter students and university employees to get tested and complete a survey that would help them better evaluate the testing method.