Students at SUNY Oneonta are in the process of moving onto campus, but they’re not going through the typical COVID testing that many area colleges are requiring. Before entering campus, the students are required to sign and acknowledge a document called Actions for Safety, which outlines the campus’s expectations with respect to COVID.
Lachlan Squair is the Chief Facilities Planning and Safety Officer here at SUNY Oneonta. He talked about the colleges plan, and at first you may be a little shocked.
"Our plan doesn’t require entry testing for COVID. Our plan involves testing of students when students go to the health center if they’re symptomatic their tested. We have COVID testing at the health center."
The college isn’t necessarily waiting for someone to become symptomatic before taking action. In fact you might say their plans for fighting COVID cases are literally going right down the drain.
There's tube coming from the sewer that draws waste water to a waste water sampling machine. There are 3 machines on campus. The waste water is then sent on to a lab that determines the amount of COVID that may be present on campus. Lachlan explains how this new technology may prove to be better than traditional testing.
"They start to shed the virus in their waste from day 1. So actually the waste water testing is a very good early warning system. You know we can see an increase in COVID cases before they become symptomatic or even before they’re able to test positive on some of the other tests that are available."
If COVID is detected in the waste water, the college can then determine which section of the campus the disease is present.
'If that test result came back positive in that particular pool, we would need to revert back and do additional testing to identify which of those members were actually of the pool were positive."
The testing is believed to be a more efficient way of monitoring the entire campus without the need for individual testing.