Spring Semester Testing Protocols

December 18, 2020
From:
Strategic Communications and External Relations

The Return to Campus-Based Operations Plan, finalized by the Startup Task Force in June 2020, was successfully implemented for the fall semester. The plan is based on New York State guidance, and our assessment of what we can and must do to enhance the safety of all members of the Rensselaer community. This plan will also serve as the roadmap for the spring semester, with key modifications detailed below. 


Our spring testing plan provides protocols for campus-based operations, targeted to those who require campus access. These protocols will allow us to carry out our basic education and research mission, with a particular focus on health and safety, pedagogical innovation, operational effectiveness, limiting risk, and managing consequences. 


As COVID-19 is highly contagious and continues to spread across the globe, our nation, and the Capital Region, we cannot make campus operations entirely risk-free. The pandemic will still be underway in the spring, and the situation could therefore change rapidly, causing us not to return to campus-based operations, based on New York State prohibition and/or our own judgment about the overall public health situation, as it affects Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Accordingly, our plan and associated protocols are subject to change. 


Testing, Tracing, Tracking, Surveillance, and Quarantine/Isolation (T3SQ/I)

To be present on the campus, the health and safety protocols require that all members of the residential-based community be tested upon return and on a recurrent basis. Rensselaer will create sufficient capacity for periodic COVID-19 testing of students and employees. This will be done using RT-qPCR testing through the Rensselaer-licensed COVID-19 testing laboratory, and point-of-care antigen testing through the Rensselaer Health Services Center.


The testing protocols for students, faculty, and staff on campus during the spring semester are as follows: 


Student Testing



  1. Undergraduate students who live on campus with campus access will be tested twice weekly;

  2. Undergraduates students who live off campus with campus access will be tested twice weekly;

  3. Undergraduate students who live off campus with no campus access will not be tested;

  4. Ph.D. students who live off campus with campus access, and who have received approval to be tested by the Provost, VP for Research, and Academic Dean, will be tested twice weekly;

  5. Ph.D. students who live off campus with no campus access will not be tested;

  6. Master’s students with campus access, and who have received approval to be tested by the Provost, VP for Research, and Academic Dean, will be tested twice weekly; and

  7. Master’s students with no campus access will not be tested.


Staff and Faculty Testing 

Essential staff and faculty who have campus access will be assigned testing based on several risk factors, including, but not limited to, their position; on-campus frequency; and amount of regular interactions with students, faculty, and staff.

 

Quarantine and Isolation 

On-campus isolation and quarantine facilities will be available only for students who reside in Rensselaer housing.


Rensselaer Health Center Access 

The Rensselaer Health Center will continue to be a resource for all matriculated students with health and well-being concerns. The Health Center will provide 24/7 services to support the health and well-being of all students, by appointment only. If there is an emergency, call 911 or contact the local hospital emergency room.


Testing Resources for Groups Not in the Spring Testing Protocol 

Rensselaer County and Albany County offer several testing options for those students who reside in the Capital Region, and who do not have access to testing on campus.  


Please refer to the COVID-19 website for updates and details on our Return to Campus-Based Operations plan. As information becomes available, we will notify the campus community.

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