The union that represents professors and staff at the State University of New York on Tuesday released a package of spring guidelines for reopening in February when class once again starts for the semester. 

The United University Professions’ report calls for the creation of testing mandates for students as they arrive on campus and an increase in surveillance testing. Campuses must also ensure they have sufficient contract tracing capabilities and filtration and ventilation in campus buildings that can remove COVID particles from the air. 

“Our report offers the strongest possible set of guidelines for SUNY to keep students, faculty and staff, and surrounding communities safe during the upcoming semester,” said UUP President Frederick Kowal. “The recommendations are built upon lessons learned from the fall semester and the excellent work that SUNY has done since the arrival of Chancellor Malatras."

The report comes after SUNY campuses closed for the semester prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. A handful of SUNY campuses closed earlier for the remainder of the year amid a sharp increase in COVID cases -- illustrating the challenges of operating a higher education campus in the middle of a fast-spreading pandemic. 

Under the guidelines proposed by the union, returning students would be required to receive two baseline COVID tests that are four to seven days apart at the start of the semester. Students would be quarantined until they test negative twice. 

As classes start, the campus population, including those living on campus or the community, as well as employees who work on campus, should be tested every two weeks through the end of the spring semester. Students who test positive would be quarantined in separate housing. 

The union also wants on-campus flu vaccinations for students and faculty, require face masks worn indoor unless they are in private residences or offices and limit visitor access to the campus. 

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but there is a long and difficult journey to that relief,” Kowal said. “The work that we do is necessary to ensure the safety of our students, our members and the communities that host SUNY campuses.”