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FAQs

Thank you to the students, faculty and staff who have submitted questions about the Return to Learn program via town hall events, our website contact form, surveys and more. We have compiled answers to many of your questions below. As we continue to operate amid great uncertainty, we want to reassure our campus community that in all decisions, the health and safety of students, faculty, staff, and local communities will be paramount.

COVID-19 Symptoms

What is the difference between SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus which causes the disease COVID-19.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19 that warrant testing?

Any of the following that are unrelated to a chronic condition: Cough, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea.

Who needs to conduct the daily symptom screening?

All UC San Diego staff, faculty and student employees who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location for work must conduct a daily symptom and exposure screening for COVID-19 and report any symptoms. The symptom and exposure screening tool can be accessed from a computer or mobile device. If you are unable to access the internet, you should call your supervisor/work lead/check-in person in advance of going to work on-site. Your supervisor will be notified daily of your work status. If you have severe symptoms, you should call 911.

Employees who are working remotely in the San Diego region, are also strongly encouraged to conduct the daily self-screening for COVID-19 symptoms and report any symptoms.

Students will have a student version of the daily symptom and exposure screening tool that is scheduled to launch on August 17. All students who are currently on campus or plan to physically come to campus are expected to complete the screening daily. The rest of the student population is highly encouraged to fill out the screening daily in order to carefully self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19.

Learn more on the Testing and Screening page.

I have symptoms of COVID-19. What should I do?

Students in the SD region: Call Student Health Services at 858-534-3300 for consultation. Stay at home until you have received guidance, which may include testing for COVID-19. Tests can be completed at no cost to students at Student Health Services or UC San Diego Health locations, regardless of healthcare provider.

Students outside of the SD region: Call your healthcare provider. Stay at home until you have received guidance, which may include testing for COVID-19.

Remote employees: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 and you report them in the daily symptom and exposure screening tool, you will be contacted by the dedicated COVID Nurses line.ou may also contact them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you with determining if you should be tested. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

On-site employees: If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not report to your worksite. You will be contacted by the dedicated COVID Nurses line. You may contact them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you with determining if you should be tested. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

If you are at a UC San Diego worksite and you develop symptoms, you should retake the symptom screening immediately and call the dedicated COVID Nurses line at 619-543-8260 to speak with a healthcare professional who will assist you with determining if you should be tested. You will be sent home by your supervisor. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

Learn more on the Testing and Screening page.

Is the online health screening survey going to become an app that can be downloaded and used daily?

The current plan is for the online health screening survey to remain a web app. However, the web app (website) is mobile friendly so staff can just favorite the website or add the website on their phone home screen.

COVID-19 Testing

What type of testing is planned for the fall?

We want to make it easy for students, faculty and staff to get tested periodically (currently planning for monthly). For asymptomatic testing, we envision placing testing boxes around campus. Starting in the fall, our plan is for asymptomatic individuals to be able to test themselves periodically without having to come to the student health service, a physician’s office or the hospital. Each will receive a collection sample bag and will either swab their own nose or mouth, then return the sample to a collection container. We know people prefer to have saliva testing, and we are working on getting this option validated so that we can offer it in the fall. Test results will be delivered directly to the individual’s mobile phone through the MyChart app. Under most circumstances the results will be available within 24 hours.

Asymptomatic testing is just one part of a broader framework that we are implementing. These tests are happening in coordination with daily symptom and exposure screenings for employees and students; environmental monitoring such as wastewater and surface testing; interventions like masking and lowering the campus density within housing and classrooms; and case isolation and contact tracing. Together, these strategies help us identify viral activity on campus and reduce the risk of widespread transmission.

When will asymptomatic testing begin?

We’ve already begun testing some employees. Students will be tested in a staggered approach as they arrive on campus when they move in. After that point, we will start our ongoing testing program for all on-campus community members. On-campus community members are encouraged to take part in periodic asymptomatic testing as a collective public health program that will help us resume on-campus activities as safely as possible.

We acknowledge that UC San Diego is not an island. We want everyone who is coming to campus to be tested. There are some populations for which we may recommend increased testing, for instance those who cannot physically distance or appropriately mask. Our approach is adaptive; we will adjust our strategy on who we test and how frequently we test based on the viral activity we find during our ongoing monitoring.

Is testing available on campus for all students who are working on campus at a worksite?

Testing for all students with symptoms or a known exposure to a positive case is available at Student Health Services at no cost to the student during regular hours. Please call Student Health Services at 858-534-3300 for consultation before coming in. Student Health Services will also provide testing if you need to travel, for a small administrative fee.

One-time asymptomatic testing has been offered to campus employees who are required to report to a worksite; this includes (1) student employees AND (2) students working in a lab opened under Return to Research and have been identified for testing by the PI. Many individuals have requested the one-time asymptomatic testing and a limited number of asymptomatic tests are available each day. You may be selected to be voluntarily tested at a UC San Diego Health location and will be contacted directly by email or phone call. If you have not been contacted and you would like a test, please be patient as we are trying to get a representative sample across our entire campus.

Some of my colleagues who work on campus are getting asymptomatic testing, but I have not been contacted. Why is this the case?

Currently, one-time asymptomatic testing has been offered to campus employees who are required to report to a worksite; this includes (1) student employees AND (2) students working in a lab opened under Return to Research and have been identified for testing by the PI. Many individuals have requested the one time asymptomatic testing and a limited number of asymptomatic tests are available each day. You may be selected to be voluntarily tested at a UC San Diego Health location and will be contacted directly by email or phone call. If you have not been contacted, please be patient as we are trying to get a representative sample across our entire campus.

What if I am a student and a campus employee? Are graduate student researchers considered students or employees in terms of testing and all health services?

The daily symptom screening and the daily symptom screener identifies you as both an employee and a student. If you need testing for symptoms based on the daily screening results, or you are offered asymptomatic testing, you may go either to a Student Health site or one of the various UC San Diego Health locations. Your results will be visible in your medical record using MyStudentChart. Student Health Services will provide clinical support should you test positive for COVID-19, and is always available for guidance, regardless of insurance. Read more about Student Health Services hours and location.

I have dependents on my SHIP insurance plan. Are they eligible for testing?

In most cases, the Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) covers students and dependents if they meet the medical criteria for COVID-19 testing. To learn more about your individual situation or for more information on SHIP, please contact Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.

What methods of testing will be used, how frequently, and how does the program address privacy?

Information has been published on the first Return to Learn testing cohort. There are two testing cohorts occurring over the summer that should help inform testing for the fall. The latest information on testing will be posted here and on the UC San Diego Health website. Learn more about COVID-19 Symptom Screening Program Privacy Practices.

How have you used modeling data to shape the UC San Diego fall plan?

The goal of the Return to Learn asymptomatic testing program is to enable us to detect outbreaks at their earliest stage so that we can intervene and prevent them from growing. Our simulation models have helped us understand that we have a high likelihood of detecting an outbreak before there are 10 detectable infections if we test at least 75% of the population on campus every month. 

The program is designed to be adaptive, based on data as it emerges. For example, it may be more effective to test some populations more or less frequently based on their particular likelihood of infection and their potential impact on the campus based on the number and variety of people they come into contact with. 

We've also done other kinds of simulation models tailored to understanding certain campus operations, such as the impact of housing density as well as classroom sizes. For example, our modeling indicated that we would see a very strong reduction in transmission if we put a maximum cap of classroom size at 50 and shifted many of our courses online. This will substantially help to reduce the risk of transmission if an infection occurs on campus.

How is UC San Diego working with and being guided by county and state recommendations?

We're working closely with the county and state to ensure that all of our activities are in alignment with their recommendations, their orders, and their policies. This is occurring on a number of levels, including the testing that we provide and the symptom screening, as well as the sanitation and other activities on campus to reduce the transmission risk. We're really working hand in hand to ensure that we are following guidelines but also enhancing them with our own understanding of how we can better target and reduce risk on campus and identify outbreaks early.

Contact Tracing

What is contact tracing and why is it important?

Contact tracing is an activity that is commonly done to interrupt transmission of communicable diseases or diseases that are passed from one person to another. It is critically important in interrupting transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

Contact tracing involves interviewing individuals who are infected and their close contacts. Close contacts of an infected person are individuals who have been within six feet of the person who has the infection for more than 15 minutes or anyone who has come in contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

How does contact tracing happen at UC San Diego?

UC San Diego has safety requirements for everyone who is on campus, including physical distancing, wearing masks, and proper hand hygiene and sanitation. Individuals are unlikely to become a close contact of a newly infected person on campus as long as there is widespread adherence to campus safety requirements.

Whether you are in a classroom, a residential hall, or an office on the campus, the key is to stay physically distant, wear a face mask, and to do so for all of the time you are together. Otherwise if an infection appears in the area you're working in, you run the risk of becoming a close contact. If you are identified as a close contact, you will be notified within 24 hours of the infected person receiving their test result.

How do you communicate with contacts?

Close contacts are reached by phone. If someone would like to follow up with our staff by text message, that will also be available. At this time, mobile applications are not being used.

What information is shared with contacts and how do you maintain patient confidentiality?

When a person becomes infected, their name and contact information is documented by their healthcare provider using standard privacy and health protections. They are also interviewed about their close contacts and advised on health and prevention measures. Close contacts receive a phone call to inform them that they have been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19. Confidentiality of the infected person is maintained.

Someone I know and interacted with was tested for COVID-19 but their results are not yet known. What should I do?

It will depend on the nature of your interaction and whether the individual you know tests positive for COVID-19. You are considered to be a "close contact" by San Diego County Public Health if you were less than 6 feet away for 15 minutes or more from, or had direct physical contact (such as hugging/kissing) with, an individual who is confirmed as COVID-19 positive. If you meet the criteria for being a “close contact,” to be safe it is best that you stay at home and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals (those over 65 years of age, with chronic medical conditions or immunocompromised) until the individual’s COVID-19 test is back. If you need to leave your home, make sure you wear a face mask and maintain physical distancing. If their test result is positive or if you have questions about what to do, contact Student Health Services for additional guidance including testing and recommendations about restricting activity, including a period of quarantine. Staff and faculty can contact the COVID Nurse’s line to get advice through the Symptom Screening Tool.

Someone I know and interacted with was diagnosed with COVID-19. What should I do?

If you meet the criteria for being a "close contact" (you were less than 6 feet away for 15 minutes or more or had direct physical contact with the person with COVID-19) you will need to quarantine for 14 days from the date of exposure under the County Health Order on Quarantine for Persons Exposed to COVID-19. You should seek testing through Student Health Services at 858-534-3300, especially if you develop symptoms. If you begin to exhibit symptoms, remain at home and contact Student Health Services for additional guidance including testing and recommendations about restricting activity. Staff and faculty can contact the COVID Nurse’s line to get advice through the Symptom Screening Tool.

I have been told by a health professional that I meet the criteria for exposure to COVID-19 and that I should quarantine and have a COVID-19 test. Why should I have a test for COVID-19?

A test will help determine if you will require isolation housing and additional clinical guidance and support. If your test is positive, you can help others by determining if any other individuals were exposed to the virus. These individuals will need to be contacted and provided with clinical guidance through a process called contact tracing. The University offers contact tracing services in order to reduce the spread of the virus without revealing your identity and to maintain your confidentiality. If your test is negative, you will still need a 14-day quarantine period after exposure because you may still be contagious or develop symptoms after your initial test. If you develop symptoms after your initial test, you may need to be re-tested. Please seek the guidance of your health provider to determine if you will need to be re-tested.

What is the difference between contact tracing and exposure notification?

These two terms are commonly confused. Contact tracing is a very specific method for public health intervention that requires in-depth investigation of potential exposure, risk for severe disease, and risk for transmission of the virus to others. It begins with a phone call with a person who is infected, then a conversation with their close contacts, and two weeks of follow-up with the close contacts.

Alternatively, exposure notification is usually conducted completely digitally on an opt-in basis. This process involves the use of smartphones to create a log of potential close contacts. The individual would enable this feature—via Bluetooth technology—and would only connect to other smartphones that have also enabled the same system. If one person becomes infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a message would be sent to those enabled smartphones that they might have been exposed to someone with the virus in the last two weeks.

Housing and Quarantine

Is on-campus housing open for Fall 2020?

Yes. On-campus housing communities and dining facilities will remain open with enhanced precautionary measures. More information on housing and the latest updates can be found here.

What is the protocol if a student living in on-campus housing tests positive for COVID-19?

If a student living in on-campus housing tests positive for COVID-19, they will be moved to isolation housing at any time during the academic year. Basic needs will be met and hot meals delivered to the unit three times a day. They will also receive care from Student Health and well-being services. Additional details are available on the HDH: COVID-19 Updates page.

What does it mean to quarantine and is it different from isolation?

Yes, quarantine and isolation are different. According to San Diego County Health orders, isolation is for individuals with a known diagnosis of COVID-19 or who are likely to have COVID-19. Quarantine is for those who are "close contacts" of an individual with a known diagnosis of COVID-19. Please see the County's guide on the differences between quarantine and isolation.

I have been outside in a large group of people not physically distant. What should I do?

You should self-monitor for symptoms and avoid contact with vulnerable individuals (over 65, chronically ill or immunocompromised) for a period of 14 days. If you were within six feet for more than 15 minutes of someone diagnosed with COVID-19, or if you had direct physical contact with a person with COVID-19, you must quarantine yourself under County Health orders.

I just traveled back to San Diego. Do I need to self-quarantine before returning to campus?

As of July 15, 2020, the San Diego County of Public Health order states that all persons arriving in the county from international locations identified on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 2 or 3 Travel Advisory shall be subject to 14-day home or other suitable location quarantine and self-monitoring. If you are not an international traveler, you should self-monitor for symptoms and seek advice from Student Health Services if you begin to develop symptoms of COVID-19. Staff and faculty can contact the COVID Nurse’s line to get advice through the Symptom Screening Tool.

Campus Safety Protocols

What is the rule for wearing masks when I am on campus?

You must wear a mask AT ALL TIMES when you are on campus. This includes being outdoors, in a lab, or any other spaces where other people may enter (even if you are the only person present). If you reside on campus, you must wear a mask whenever you leave your apartment or suite. Only remove your mask if you are eating or drinking and immediately replace your mask afterward. Learn more about campus safety requirements here

Can you describe the safety measures being taken in regard to cleaning protocols, PPE and general campus operations?

Throughout the pandemic, Resource Management and Planning (RMP) has continued to safely deliver essential services to the campus. Full information about campus safety operations can be found here.

Academic Instruction

Will the UC San Diego administration be committed to some form of on-campus instruction this coming fall quarter?

For Fall Quarter 2020, it is UC San Diego's intention to offer courses across all of our divisions, colleges, programs and majors. Find a full list of the most up-to-date answers to FAQ on Educational Continuity page here. Additionally, learn more about guidance on remote delivery of courses and instruction.

Is it possible that the University’s current plans for Fall on-campus instruction could change between now and September (or after classes begin)?

How will the university ensure that faculty and students have access to appropriate technology resources to support a remote learning environment?

For information on remote/online teaching resources, please visit our EdTech group. Additional information may be found at the Academic Personnel site. Information for students regarding resources to support remote learning may be found here.

Will students and faculty have access to the Library buildings and physical collections?

For the safety and wellbeing of our community, Geisel Library and the Biomedical Library Building remain closed until further notice. Learn more about services available at the Library during the COVID-19 response.

How will the recent “SEVP ruling that nonimmigrant F-1 and M-1 students attending schools operating entirely online/remotely during Fall 2020 may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States” impact UC San Diego students?

Campus response to the recent SEVP ruling is developing. The latest information may be found here

If a professor is at high risk due to age or an underlying condition, will they be excused from being on-site?

Our first concern is the safety of our campus community. Any faculty member with personal health concerns should contact their chair/provost/director to make appropriate plans. More information may be found on the Academic Personnel FAQs here.

Research

Other Support

Is there a plan to increase resources at Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) for students?

Yes. This spring quarter, students voted to approve the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) & Student Mental Health Fee Referendum, which will expand and increase the availability of CAPS and mental health services for all students, and increase funding to improve student mental health support and education. This is in addition to campus investments in new CAPS staff resources added in the Winter and Spring quarters, which expanded both in-person and telehealth opportunities. Faculty and staff also play a crucial role in helping to create a culture of care for UC San Diego students. For important resources for faculty and staff, please visit: Creating a Culture of Care: Resources for Faculty and Staff to Support Students in Distress.

Will a student’s financial aid be impacted if they decide to move out of campus housing after the fall quarter begins?

Please visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships FAQ page for information regarding COVID-19 impacts on financial aid and scholarships.