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Expanding Availability of Testing

December 21, 2021

Dear CUNY Community,

As the semester and final exams come to an end today, we find ourselves once again facing a significant increase in COVID-19 infections due to a new variant. The ongoing public health emergency continues to challenge us, but thanks to the vaccines and disciplined mask-wearing, CUNY, like our City and State, are better prepared than before to handle this new surge.

I urge everyone who hasn’t already been vaccinated and boosted to do so immediately. The vaccines are the best tools we have to protect ourselves, our loved ones and members of our community against becoming gravely ill with COVID-19 during this holiday season and beyond. I particularly want to encourage those who are vaccinated to get their boosters as they seem to be the best line of defense against the omicron variant. Please, do not postpone these life-saving decisions one more day. To find a site near you to get the vaccines or the boosters, visit the NYC COVID-19 and Flu Vaccine Finder or NYS Find COVID-19 Vaccines.

Testing at CUNY Sites 

To address the shortage of testing options and the long lines we are seeing throughout the city, we are pleased to have worked out an agreement with our testing provider, Applied DNA, to expand our current services so we can also offer free PCR testing at CUNY testing sites beginning on Tuesday, December 28. From that day on, any CUNY student or employee who needs to be tested for any reason will be able to walk into a site, show their CUNY ID, register in the system and get tested. Results will be available as usual within 24 to 48 hours.

Please note that Applied DNA is using a new PCR test that captures the omicron variant. For a list of CUNY sites and hours of operation, visit here. For our general FAQ on the testing program, visit here. We are also working to expand the availability of additional non-CUNY testing sites on our campuses, as well as sites to get vaccinated and boosted.

Encouraging Weekly Results 

CUNY’s weekly testing numbers have been consistently encouraging for the last four months. Beginning  August 25 and through December 19, the University conducted 91,452 tests of unvaccinated individuals, of which 285 have been positive, a rate of 0.30%, considerably lower than the city- and statewide figures. You can monitor the results of our weekly testing in the CUNY COVID-19 Safety Tracker. CUNY’s random COVID-19 testing program of vaccinated individuals ramped up recently, adding to the measures we have taken this fall to keep CUNY’s campuses safe.

Protocol if Exposed or Positive

A reminder that CUNY requires unvaccinated individuals to enter quarantine in the event of possible exposure to COVID-19. Unvaccinated employees and students can return to work or classroom after 10 days with a negative test result or, with appropriate medical clearance to return to work. This documentation must be dated no earlier than 3 days prior to the anticipated return to work date. This requirement applies to all quarantines including those needed because of symptoms, a positive test or exposure. In the event of possible exposure, vaccinated individuals should stay home for 5 days and can return to their worksite or classroom after 5 days with a negative test result. Isolation is required for everyone diagnosed with COVID-19. For further details on protocols, please visit here.

Remaining Vigilant 

Like all of you, I am aware that this is a fluid situation. We will remain vigilant in monitoring campus-by-campus positivity rates; as conditions evolve, we will continue to work closely with public health and government officials to protect the health and safety of our community. We are greatly encouraged and grateful that almost every member of our community is vaccinated.

Thanks to all CUNY employees for the great dedication you have shown our University this fall and throughout the pandemic, enabling CUNY’s vital contributions to the recovery of our City and State and honoring our role as public servants.

Please get vaccinated and boosted, stay diligent in masking and do all that you can to continue to stay safe. We have been through this before and now, with more experience and resources at our disposal, I have no doubt we will continue to successfully advance our mission. Wishing you and yours a safe, peaceful and joyful season.



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