Officials at the State University of New York have reached an agreement with the union that represents public college and university staff to extend free COVID-19 testing through the spring. 

The agreement with United University Professions comes as SUNY campuses are completing a fall semester as students leave campus for Thanksgiving, following a testing program meant to prevent COVID-positive cases spreading from some schools. 

"Testing every person on our campuses has been critical to monitoring and controlling the presence of the virus — something our colleges have done incredibly well this semester," said SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras.

The agreement with UUP President Fred Kowal would extend the testing through the end of the spring semester, affecting about 37,000 workers who will be tested "regularly" for the virus.

"Making sure we can continue testing of all individuals on campus — be it students, faculty, or staff — is absolutely critical. We must all share in the sacrifice to keep the virus at bay," Malatras said.

The state's public higher education system uses SUNY Upstate Medical in Syracuse for the capacity of conducting up to 200,000 COVID-19 tests a week. 

"We understand that mandatory surveillance testing of all members of the SUNY community, including the employees we represent, will help to stem the spread of coronavirus," Kowal said.

"The agreement also includes important provisions protecting our members' privacy and limiting how test samples and results are used. We look forward to working with Chancellor Malatras to continue to ensure the health and wellbeing of our campus communities."