COVID-19 Testing and Tracing

Testing and contact tracing are key tools in the effort to protect the health of the Colgate community.

Testing Strategy

Colgate's has approached its reopening with a layered and proactive strategy for COVID-19 testing. The core elements of this strategy are:

  1. Pre-arrival testing: The University required students, faculty, and staff to provide a negative test result from the days leading up to their return to campus.
  2. Arrival testing: All students were tested within 24 hours of their arrival on campus.
  3. Post-arrival testing: All students received a follow-up test 7–10 days following their arrival on campus.
  4. Ongoing surveillance testing: Throughout the semester, the University is conducting weekly sampled testing of 6% of the on-campus community. Additionally, the University is conducting regular wastewater monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 genomic RNA levels. This allows the University to add targeted surveillance testing at areas of possible concern.

In Case of Illness or Suspected Illness

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guide to symptoms of COVID-19

Students who think they have been exposed to COVID-19 or who are showing symptoms should not walk into a healthcare facility; it is important to call first so the staff can prepare.

  • Students should call the Student Health Center at 315-228-7750 from 9 a.m.–4 p.m. to set up an appointment. Outside of these hours they should call Campus Safety at (315) 228-7333.
  • Students living off campus or at their primary residence should contact their healthcare provider and then inform the University by emailing

If you are in Hamilton and have an urgent medical concern that is COVID-related please contact the New York State Department of Health at 888-364-3065.

Employees who do not feel well

  • Do not report to work
  • Contact your supervisor to address staffing concerns
  • Seek appropriate medical care

If you are concerned you may have COVID-19

  • Contact your primary care provider
  • If you do not have a primary care provider, consider evaluation through an urgent care center close to home; call first, do not walk in.
  • SUNY Upstate has a very helpful COVID-19 Emergency line at 315-464-3979. They will be able to help guide your next steps.

Your healthcare provider will determine if testing for COVID-19 is necessary.

If deemed necessary, the cost of testing is fully covered by Colgate's healthcare plan. See:

Benefit Updates During COVID-19 Disruption

Employees with COVID-19

An employee who tests positive for COVID-19, is diagnosed with COVID-19 but not tested, or who has symptoms consistent with COVID-19: Colgate requests that you notify your supervisor or HR so that appropriate work accommodations can be made and contact tracing can be started.

Conditions for Returning to Work:

  • At least three days have passed since resolution of fever without fever-reducing medication.
  • Respiratory or other symptoms have improved.
  • It has been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
  • If someone has tested positive for COVID-19, they must be given clearance by the Department of Health for a return to work.
  • The individual may also be required to provide a fitness for duty certification from their health care provider.

Employee Quarantine & Isolation

The University has prepared guidelines for employees who are required to quarantine or isolate due to illness, positive testing, or close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.

About employee quarantine and isolation

Notify Colgate if You Have Been Tested

If you are a member of the University community, please let us know if you are being tested or if you tested positive for COVID-19. This will help us assess the impact on our community. Email us at

Employees should also notify their supervisor.

Respecting Medical Privacy

In accordance with federal law related to health information, individuals and their testing results cannot be publicly identified. Please respect their privacy — even if you believe you know some individuals' results — so they can focus completely on their health.

As a community, we must do everything we can to support these individuals and one another through this difficult time.

If Selected for Surveillance Testing

Each week, a 6% sample of individuals in the campus community will be selected for surveillance testing. Participation in the surveillance testing protocol is an important part of the Commitment to Community Health.

Students, faculty, and staff who are selected for surveillance testing will:

  1. Receive an email notifying them that they have been selected.
  2. Sign up for a testing appointment; the link to sign up will be provided in the email notifying them of their selection.
  3. Go to their testing appointment at the tent outside the Student Health Services building at their scheduled appointment time. Face masks and 6 feet of physical distancing are required throughout the testing procedure.
  4. Receive testing results through the Aegis Science Corporation patient portal using a unique lab requisition number provided at the time of testing.

Contact Tracing

As necessary, contact tracing will be conducted in coordination with the Madison County Department of Health for close contacts of those who test positive.

When it conducts contact tracing of COVID-positive individuals, the Madison County Department of Public Health identifies “close contacts” as people who have been within 6 feet of a positive case for 10 minutes or longer. This definition is more stringent than CDC guidelines, which indicates a period of 15 minutes.

These New York state contact tracers will take into consideration the type of contact, (direct physical touching or otherwise), the duration of that contact, the relative proximity of the individuals, and whether the COVID-19-positive individual displayed symptoms such as coughing, which could increase the likelihood of transmission.

The consequences of being identified as a “close contact” are significant: a mandatory 14-day quarantine from the time the last contact was made.  These 14 days would be beyond Colgate's Universal Arrival Quarantine. 

Beyond these personal consequences, the increased risk of transmission that could be caused by multiple students making close contacts could lead to a rapid increase in the number of cases on campus. A “super spreader”-like scenario has already been seen at universities like UNC, Notre Dame, and Syracuse. Should this take place at Colgate, it would dramatically increase the likelihood that would Colgate need to re-close for a fully remote semester. 

For these reasons, students should:

  • Limit the number of individuals with whom they are “close contacts” beyond roommates. During the Universal Quarantine, students should have no close contacts other than their roommates.
  • Refrain from physical contact.
  • Stay 6 feet apart, especially when you are interacting with people for extended periods of time.
  • Reduce the number of people you are interacting with at any one time.
  • Continue wearing face coverings, making sure they cover both mouth and nose.

Students can keep making personal connections with friends and neighbors, but please do so from 6 feet apart!

Take Preventative Measures

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Hand sanitizer stations have been installed at the primary entry/exit of each building, as well as at large, indoor gathering spaces.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain six feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Keep at least six feet of distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
  • Do not gather in groups — stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others — the cloth face cover is not a substitute for physical distancing.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.

Students, faculty, and staff are required to wear face coverings that completely cover mouth and nose at all times when on and off campus, in both indoor and outdoor spaces, when physical distancing of 6 feet cannot occur. 

Colgate University will be providing two cloth face coverings to all students, free of charge. Students are expected to obtain additional face coverings as needed and to launder and care for their cloth masks according to the CDC’s instructions on use of and care for face coverings.

  • Individuals on campus will be required to wear a (non-surgical) mask in any environment where a physical distance of 6 feet cannot be continuously maintained.
  • Continue to hold meetings virtually whenever possible.
  • Use noncontact methods of greeting rather than shaking hands.
  • Avoid using others’ phones, desks, offices, work tools, and equipment when possible.