TO: The NYU Community

FROM: Dr. Carlo Ciotoli, Executive Lead, NYU COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team

DATE: September 3, 2020

Between August 1 and August 28, we have conducted 17,175 tests at NYU testing centers to clear people to return to campus and to evaluate people coming from hot-spot states and abroad; there were 11 positive cases among those tested, and another six positive cases submitted among independently obtained tests. Ultimately, everyone who wishes to return to campus must be tested.

That represents the initial, or arrival, phase of our testing program. Beginning on September 7, we will be starting our ongoing testing program, which we are putting in place to evaluate the overall level of COVID-19 infections and detect possible outbreaks as early as possible.

I am writing to you today to preliminarily describe the ongoing testing program. We will be following up with more detailed information and instruction in the coming days.

Key Take-Aways

  • Ongoing testing will begin the week of September 7, primarily within the student residence halls, and will expand campus-wide the week of September 14
  • We will principally be relying on self-administered saliva tests for the ongoing testing program, but will continue to do some swab testing in the tent on Gould Plaza (in front of the Stern School of Business)
  • We will communicate with members of the NYU community about when and how often you need to submit tests
  • Participation is mandatory for all students, faculty, administrators, and staff who expect or wish to maintain access to University buildings

The Ongoing Testing Program

Because a person can infect others with COVID-19 even if the person is not displaying symptoms, ongoing testing is a vital part of our safety and health planning, so that we can identify those who may have the illness in order to help prevent its spread. Rather than testing samples of the NYU community, we are going to do large numbers of tests each week that will allow us to test the entire community relatively frequently.

For the ongoing testing, we will principally be using a saliva test. Like the nasal swab test, it tests for infection; however, it is more comfortable than the nasal swab, and because it can be self-administered at home, it enables us to test more people with greater frequency while helping us avoid long lines at a testing location.

Locations for Picking Up and Dropping Off Tests

In the residence halls, test kits can be picked up, completed, and dropped off on site. Those living in student housing will hear soon from residence hall staff or the NYU COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team with more detailed instructions.

We will provide multiple locations in addition to the residence halls when we expand testing the week of September 14. We will follow up with information next about the locations where test kits can be obtained and dropped off.

You will need to return the sample promptly.


To begin with, we expect that:

  • Students living in residence halls will be required to submit a sample every week because congregate settings can be prone to more rapid transmission, as will certain groups of students in clinical settings and Public Health Ambassadors
  • Other students will be required to submit a sample every two weeks. All employees — faculty, administrators, and staff — will be required to submit a sample every two weeks

While this is our initial plan, we may adjust the frequency of certain groups’ testing as we evaluate the results of the testing program.


Participation in the ongoing testing process is mandatory. It is an important part of the measures we are taking to keep each other safe, and so we hope everyone will cooperate with the testing program in that spirit. Those who do not observe the requirements of the testing programs will have their NYU ID cards deactivated and will not be able to enter NYU facilities.

Data on Results

Aggregated community data on testing and results from the ongoing testing program — along with all other test submissions — will be updated regularly on the status page of the NYU Returns web hub.