SUNY students face challenges returning home for holidays

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NEW YORK — Every year around this time, college kids gear up for a break from their studies to enjoy some time with their families.

But this year before even heading home, students at SUNY schools are required to test negative for the coronavirus before they can leave campus.

The so called “exit testing” is now underway at campuses across the region.

“You go in and do a mouth swab around your mouth and shake it up and give it to them and you get your results in a week,” said SUNY-Purchase Senior, Sebastian Bass.

Bass, from Long Island, is one of 140,000 students within SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities who must be tested for Covid-19 within 10 days before Thanksgiving break.

If he and his classmates test negative, they can exit campus and go to their loved ones.

“I think everybody should get tested so we don’t infect any family during this holiday season,” said Bass.

Testing for COVID-19 continues on campus through Wednesday of this week.

The policy applies to any student who’s taking at least one class on campus, working on campus or using the facilities, like the gym or dining hall.

According to the Purchase College President, Dr. Milagros Peña, SUNY Upstate Medical University developed the testing which is an FDA-approved saliva test.

After the Thanksgiving break, SUNY will shift to remote learning for the rest of the fall semester.

“You’re making a commitment to making all of us feel safe but particularly everyone else around you and so this is a commitment to community,” said Peña. “I want parents and community members to feel we’ve done everything we could do provide a safe return of students to their homes.”

Classes will resume in-person in February, after students quarantine at home for a week before school starts AND get tested for the virus.

That also means no spring break. It’s a sacrifice students like Bass are willing to make to stay healthy through a pandemic.

“I miss concerts and going to events and photographing them but I’d rather my health be in tact and my health be okay,” said Bass.

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