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Potsdam Prepared: COVID-19 Updates

General FAQs

What is our social distancing policy?
All students and employees returning to campus will be expected to adhere to social distancing recommendations, including maintaining a distance of six feet from others and wearing face masks in all common areas (unless alone in their individual office or dorm room). We will continue to have restrictions on campus group gatherings and classes, especially those planned for indoors. There will be requirements for spacing, fixed seating, ventilation, cleaning protocols before and after, and for attendance notes to be taken.

Are there any specific policies or procedures for faculty or staff related to the coronavirus?
Yes. For more information on the directive regarding non-essential employees staying at home, see here. More information about the new telecommuting pilot program and application are also available.

Faculty and staff are encouraged to stay home if they are sick and must follow time and attendance policies and procedures, even with the new guidelines in place. All non-essential travel is currently restricted.

Even if you are designated as essential personnel do not report to work if you are experiencing symptoms of illness associated with the COVID-19 virus (such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or respiratory infection/distress). If you are experiencing symptoms, you should call your healthcare provider and self-quarantine as a precaution, until you receive medical advice.

If any employee wishes to discuss an underlying health condition as it relates to the coronavirus, please contact Melissa Proulx or Jennifer Murray, Human Resources.

Can I work from home during the pandemic?
Governor Andrew Cuomo on March 16 directed all New York State employees that are designated as non-essential to not report to work for the next two weeks, starting on March 17. At this time, non-essential employees shall work from home to the extent practicable. Where non-essential employees can perform critical work outside of their normal state workplace, this is permitted. Employees will not be charging their accruals to fulfill this directive. Any employee who plans to work remotely, whether essential or non-essential, should work with their supervisors to complete the statewide telecommuting application. The telecommuting policy can be found here. The telecommuting pilot has been extended through December 31, 2020. SUNY Potsdam has chosen to approve telecommuting plans through January 15, 2021 to the greatest extent possible. After that time, SUNY Potsdam is planning on beginning to bring employees back to campus in phases. You must have approval from your supervisor to extend a telecommuting arrangement, along with an approved application on file with Human Resources.

What if I need to take a leave?
Employees should follow normal time and attendance procedures and contact Human Resources to discuss leave options.

I have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. What should I do?
You should immediately contact your healthcare provider for guidance. You should then contact Melissa Proulx at (315) 267-2086 or Jennifer Murray at (315) 267-2492 in Human Resources as soon as possible. Please note that Human Resources is following the directive to telecommute as much as possible. Please leave a message and your call will be returned as soon as possible.

Who should I notify if I am diagnosed with COVID-19?
You should then contact Melissa Proulx at (315) 267-2086 or Jennifer Murray at (315) 267-2492 in Human Resources as soon as possible. Please be advised that the College reserves the right to request medical documentation. If you test positive for COVID-19 and you are required to be quarantined by the Department of Health you will be provided with 14 calendar days of leave without charge to accruals. 

What if school or daycare is closed, and I need to stay home with my children?
Accruals other than sick leave are available for employees to use when they determine it is in their best interest to not work during this time. Employees should follow normal time and attendance procedures to request time off. Employees who are eligible to utilize the statewide telecommuting policy should work with their immediate supervisor. Children should not be reporting to campus with employees.

I want to stay home because I have a personal health condition or an immediate family member with a health condition. What are my options?
Individuals that want to discuss a personal health condition for themselves or immediate family member should contact Melissa Proulx at (315) 267-2086 or Jennifer Murray at (315) 267-2492.

Can a supervisor send home an employee who appears to be ill?
Any employee that is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately report those symptoms to their supervisor and Human Resources. The employee will be directed to leave work, or stay home if they have not already reported to work, and self-quarantine as a precaution. 

Do I still need to submit timesheets?
Yes. All employees, whether essential or non-essential, even if working remotely, must continue to submit timesheets.

Do I have to disclose my underlying health condition to my supervisor?
No. Supervisors are encouraged to speak with employees to discuss any concerns that the employee may have about the safety of the workplace and actions the College is taking to help ensure a safe workplace. The Department of Environmental Health and Safety can also be contacted to discuss any workplace safety concerns. Supervisors should not ask employees specific questions about their health history or current health condition, nor should they seek out employees with whom they suspect may have a current health condition. Employees with health-related concerns should contact their personal healthcare provider for their advice and direction in regard to reporting to work. The employee should then contact Melissa Proulx at (315) 267-2086 or Jennifer Murray at (315) 267-2492 for further discussion related to their situation and needs.

Does Matilda’s Law apply to SUNY Potsdam?
No. However, if you are older than 70, have an underlying condition or are immunocompromised, Human Resources will work with employees to find a safe work option.

What happens if I am at maximum vacation balances and I am unable to use them by the April 1, 2021 or December 31, 2020 deadline?
The Governor’s Office on Employee Relations has extended the deadline for employees in the classified service to December 31, 2021. Any questions can be directed to Jessica Haggett.

Can I stop the deduction from my paycheck for dependent care since I am no longer in need of child care?
Employees can stop their deductions or change their election amounts if they experience an eligible change in status. Changes can include a change in care provider or change in work schedule (for the employee or their spouse). There are several reason listed on the website, that can help employees make changes to their DCAA(dependent care). Employees can call 800-358-7202 or e-mail if they have any questions.  

I need mental health support in coping with this crisis. Where can I go for help?
The College Counseling Center has put together a list of resources to help both employees and students. If you need support for your mental health, email Gena Nelson at The College Counseling Center is offering one-time video meetings for support and advice for faculty and staff, and can also offer a list of private practitioners for ongoing counseling. The Governor’s Office has also established a free hotline staffed by volunteer mental health professionals, available anytime by calling 1 (844) 863-9314.

COVID-19 Department Signage


Useful Links



Surveillance Testing

Am I required to participate?
Employees represented by CSEA, UUP, PBA and PEF who report to work in person on campus to complete some or all of their work obligation are subject to surveillance testing under specific Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) recently reached between SUNY and each bargaining unit. MC employees are also deemed subject to testing. As such, attendance as scheduled by the university for these unit employees is considered mandatory.

What if I cannot attend as scheduled?
Testing is required and is considered a priority over your other work obligations, so please make every effort to attend the assigned appointment time. Individuals who are granted an excused absence will be assigned an appointment for a future date. (Excused absences should be limited and may include, but are not limited to, prescheduled medical appointments, pre-scheduled vacations or other leaves, inability to get child/elder care, etc.) Individuals who knowingly skip the testing appointment may be subject to disciplinary sanctions consistent with their collective bargaining agreement.

Why can’t I pick my own testing date ?
This is a surveillance testing program and requires a planned and programmatic scheduling of individuals to ensure that a represented cross section of our employee populations is scheduled on any given day. You are not permitted to pick the date but you are permitted to pick a time when you are selected for surveillance testing.

When could I be scheduled?
Currently we are scheduling employees to be tested on Tuesdays , between 8 a.m. and 3p.m.
How will I receive notice of my testing date?
You will receive an email from Human Resources notifying you that you are scheduled for COVID-19 surveillance testing. At that time you will select the time of your appointment through an online survey

What is “pool testing”?
Pool testing is a form of COVID-19 surveillance testing. During pool testing, participants at the testing site will perform a self-swab to collect a saliva sample. Individual saliva samples are then pooled together into groups of up to 12 individuals. Analysis of samples is then performed at Upstate Medical University. If a pool tests positive, follow-up testing known has “reflex testing” is conducted on the individual swabs in order to detect the specific member(s) of the pool who are positive for COVID-19.

How long will this take?
You should expect to be at the testing site no more than 30 minutes.. The actual self-swabbing is less than one-minute. Please review the swabbing technique video.

What do I need to do prior to arriving for my testing appointment?
Register online for the time of your testing appointment.

  • Register with SUNY Upstate Medical University

When registering for the surveillance account it is asking for my health insurance information. Why?
The full cost of the initial pool test is incurred by the university. If a pool tests positive, a reflex test will be performed on each individual sample in the pool. This reflex test will be billed to insurance under the CARES Act. Any costs not picked up under the CARES Act will be billed to the university. If at any time you receive a bill from this pool testing, please provide it to Sheila Scott at

What if I do not own a smart phone?
Please use a personal computer or tablet to complete the registration process in advance of the testing appointment. When you arrive for the assigned testing appointment, there will be limited laptops available. We will assist you with the rest of the process at the testing site.

What do I need to do on the day of my testing appointment?
On the day of your scheduled testing, please:

  • Do NOT eat or drink anything (including gum, mints and lozenges) within 30 minutes of reporting for testing.
  • Do NOT smoke, vape, or use smokeless tobacco for 30 minutes prior to testing.
  • Do NOT brush teeth or use mouthwash within three hours of testing.
  • Arrive at Maxcy Hall on schedule for your assigned time.
  • Bring your smart device.
  • Remember your assigned testing time.

What do I do if I can not remember my SUNY Upstate username or password?
If you have forgotten your password to log in to your SUNY Upstate account to register for your test, there is a Forgot Password option on the log in page. You will enter the email address you created your account with and click the reset password button. This will immediately send an email to that email address from sender with a confirmation number that you will then enter into the system to reset your password. All passwords must be at least 8 characters and contain upper and lower case letters, a number and a special character. Upon changing your password you should either save your log in credentials to your phone or write down the credentials for future use on a laptop.

Do I need to self-quarantine or self-isolate after I participate in the pool testing program?
There is no quarantine or isolation required on the day you participate in pool testing. Human Resources will contact you if you test positive and at that time, you will need to self-quarantine. This requires you to remain in your residence and refrain from either having visitors or visiting anyone else. You must not report to work and should not participate in any other group activity or social gatherings during the self-isolation period.

I participated in pool testing today. What do I put on my daily COVID-19 screening when responding to the question about awaiting test results?
Participating in the pool testing program does not require you to respond ‘yes’ to any of the questions. Please respond as you otherwise would. In fact, if any of your answers to those questions would be ‘yes’, it could impact your ability to provide a swab.

When will I be notified about my results?
We expect to receive your pool test results 24-48 hours after you participated in pool testing. If you are included in a pool that tests positive, a member of the Human Resources team will contact you directly.

If I am identified as positive, can I submit for another test to rule out a false positive?
The university will not process a retest to rule out a false positive. Please consult with your personal care provider. Any additional follow up testing or medical care costs would be subject to coverage by your health insurance coverage.

I am currently in mandatory isolation/quarantine as determined by the county health department. Should I participate in testing?
Individuals currently under a mandatory period of isolation or quarantine as determined by county health officials should continue to observe the requirements of isolation/quarantine. You should NOT come to the testing site to participate in pool testing. Please email Melissa Proulx at to inform of us of your isolation/quarantine.

I am not physically reporting to campus at all; do I need to be tested?
We are attempting to screen these populations out of being scheduled, but if you get scheduled and you indeed never report to campus to work, you are not required to be tested. Please email Melissa Proulx at to inform Human Resources of your status.

Once tested, will I be scheduled to be tested again?
Yes, testing will continue through June 30, 2021 with 50 percent of the mandated population tested each week.

Will testing occur during flexible holiday staffing?
Testing will be paused on November 24, December 22, and December 29.

How long will this testing continue?
The current MOUs are in effect through June 30, 2021, but may be extended if deemed appropriate by SUNY and agreed to be each bargaining unit.