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Employee Symptom Screening and COVID-19 Testing

UC San Diego Health Sciences and Health System employees can find information about testing, exposure and return-to-work guidelines here. In addition, Health Human Resources can be contacted for further guidance.

Campus employees can learn more on this page about employee symptom and exposure screening, COVID-19 testing, what to do if you have symptoms, what happens if you test positive, leave options available, exposure and isolation and mental health resources.

Daily Symptom Screening

On-site employees: required

All UC San Diego staff, faculty, student employees, and individuals who are working in a research lab who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location for work must conduct a daily self-screening for COVID-19 and report any symptoms or confirmed exposures for days that they will be on site. All individuals regardless of vaccination status who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should test. Student employees, including teaching assistants, should only use the student daily screener.

Remote employees: recommended

All remote employees are strongly encouraged to conduct a daily self-screening in order to help consistently monitor the community's health and help schedule testing quickly, if the need arises. After you complete the daily screening, your supervisor will be notified of your work status. If you have severe symptoms, you should call 911. All individuals regardless of vaccination status who develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19 should test.

Note: the screener 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 or check-in person in advance of going to work on-site to complete the screening verbally.

What Do the Thumbs Mean?

All UC San Diego campus employees who are reporting to campus or any other physical UC San Diego location must conduct a daily self-screening for COVID-19 before arrival. You will receive a colored thumb after you complete the screening to signify if you are cleared to work, or if quarantine or testing is needed. 

Green Thumb icon
  • Allowed on campus
  • Follow campus safety guidelines
Yellow Thumb icon
  • Allowed on campus
  • Must mask outdoors
  • Must eat alone
  • Follow campus safety guidelines
Red Thumb icon
  • Not allowed on campus

COVID-19 Testing

UC San Diego offers an ongoing testing program for UC San Diego employees. Tests can be completed at no cost to employees at UC San Diego Health locations or via test kit vending macines, regardless of healthcare provider. You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing.

UC San Diego Health also offers COVID-19 tests by appointment for the public, including family members of employees and contractors.

Testing Requirements

Routine asymptomatic testing regardless of vaccination status is not required, but is available.

  • All campus employees are required to test if they develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19.
  • Campus employees who have used the restroom facilities in a facility with a positive wastewater signal are strongly recommended to conduct a test (PCR or rapid antigen test), regardless of vaccination status.

Access a Self-Administered Test Via Vending Machines (Must have campus employee ID card)

Employees may visit one of several vending machines on campus to pick up a self-administered test kit, which they can complete at their convenience and drop off within 72 hours (from the time the kit is picked up), no appointment needed. Please submit your sample by 2 p.m. for the most timely return of results. 

Employees may pick up one test kit for their own usage on a twice-weekly basis, unless authorized to test more frequently by the UC San Diego Health Testing Support Line.

Please note that campus employees are required to swipe their campus ID card (see which cards are compatible) when picking up a self-administered test kit from a vending machine. For those who need a card replacement, please see here.

While test kits are still free, a virtual debit of $1 will happen automatically on your campus card account, followed by an immediate credit return that will balance out to zero each day; there will be no actual charge. After your card is validated, you may make any selection from numbers 10-69.

How to Use the COVID-19 Test Kit Vending Machine

Individual self-administered tests are identified by using a barcode that is scanned at the time of sampling and links to your campus credentials. This identification step is critical to ensure accurate and timely results. View instructions on how to complete the self-administered test here. (Instructions in Spanish here). You may also watch a video about using the vending machines here.

Please prepare before you arrive:

  1. A smartphone or mobile device*
  2. Your campus ID card
  3. Know your Active Directory (AD) username and password
  4. Download the free UC San Diego app. For those who already have it, please be sure it is updated. You will need the updated app to scan the test kit.
  5. Download the MyChart app and select UCSDHealth as the provider for MyUCSDChart. Please login using your Active Directory (AD) credentials rather than using the “Guest Login” or signing in with a previous username. This will prevent duplication of records and ensure your results are delivered correctly.

*For those who prefer an alternative, iPads are available at the Price Center clinic location, which is by appointment only.

Vending Machine Hours and Locations

Samples are picked up daily at 2 p.m.

  • Muir College | Roots Restaurant (map)
  • Seventh College | Next to the Parcel Center (map)
  • Nuevo East (Porton) | Outdoor Gym Area (map)
  • Price Center | First Floor Across from Burger King (map)*
  • Thurgood Marshall College Res Halls | TMC Residence Life Lobby (map)
  • Warren College | Across from the Residence Life Office (map)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt College | Next to the Laundry Room at Student Activity Center (map)
  • Village at Pepper Canyon | Lodge (map)
  • South Mesa | 9126 Laundry Room (map)
  • One Miramar | Next to the Parcel Center (map)
  • School of Medicine | Biomedical Research Facility II (map)
  • Revelle College | Argo Hall Parcel Center (map)
  • Campus Services Complex | Electric Shop (map)
  • South Parking Structure | Level 3 West Entrance (map)
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography | Eckart Building Loading Dock (map)
  • Jacobs School of Engineering | Near Bear Statue (map)
  • Coast Apartments | Laundry Room (map)
  • Gilman Parking | Pepper Canyon Hall Corridor (map)
  • North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood (map)
  • Rita Atkinson Residences (map)
  • Torrey Pines Center South | Second floor breezeway near shuttle (map)

Make an Appointment for Provider-Administered Drive-Up and Walk-Through Testing (required for first-ever UC San Diego COVID-19 test)

For those who would like to schedule a drive-up/walk-through appointment, including those completing their first-ever UC San Diego COVID-19 test, please use the links below. Note that drive-up appointments may have limited availability.

Provider-Administered Testing Locations

Rec Gym (Walk-Up) — By Appointment Only

Please note the Rec Gym Clinic will no longer offer weekend appointments. The clinic will be closing on Dec. 16, 2022.

UC San Diego Campus | Rec Gym, Rec Activity Room, located between Main Gym and Tata Hall (map)
Monday - Friday: 8 AM - 4:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: Closed

La Jolla (Drive-Up) — By Appointment Only
9331 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037
Located in parking lot number P782
Monday - Friday: 8 AM - 4 PM
Saturday: 9 AM - 3:30 PM
Sunday: Closed

Community Testing (Employee spouses, partners and family members; contractors)

Self-pay COVID-19 testing, including travel testing, for members of the public (including family members of UC San Diego employees and students) is currently available at drive thru testing sites. To make an appointment, visit the UC San Diego Health COVID-19 Testing website.

California legislation requires that health insurers cover the cost of COVID-19 tests, including testing that is for personal use or not medically necessary. Any individual who does not have access to free campus testing (employee, student, etc) and does not have insurance may use free county sites.

While tests are covered by insurance, for a travel form (Hawaii or another destination), the cost is $60 per form, payable by credit card at the UC San Diego Health drive thru site. Please note that a cash rate may be required in lieu of insurance for foreign individuals without a combination of a U.S. social security number, a U.S. address, and foreign insurance.

For those who do not qualify for self-administered testing and are living or working on campus (including family members of employees who live on campus), you may be eligible for free testing through a provider-administered testing site, such as at the Rec Gym clinic or a drive thru location. Contact to determine if you are eligible.


On-site employees with symptoms

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not report to your worksite and complete the symptom and exposure screening. You will be contacted by the UC San Diego Health Testing Support Line unless you have already contacted them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you in scheduling a test.
  • If you are already at a UC San Diego worksite and you develop symptoms, you should retake the symptom and exposure screening immediately and call the UC San Diego Health Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260 to speak with a healthcare professional who will assist you with determining if you should be tested sooner. You will be sent home by your supervisor.

Remote employees with symptoms

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, report the symptoms in the symptom and exposure screening tool and you will be contacted by the UC San Diego Health Testing Support Line, unless you have already contacted them directly at 619-543-8260. A healthcare professional will assist you with determining if you should be tested sooner.

Symptomatic employees waiting for test results

If you were tested because of symptoms or possible direct exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, you should behave as if you have been infected and can infect others while you are waiting for your results.

  • Do not report to your work on-site.
  • Avoid contact with other people, including those sharing your residence.
  • Stay in your residence in an isolated room alone and wear a face covering if you enter common areas.
  • Wash your hands before leaving your room or when coming into contact with others.

How will I receive my test results?

scientist holding Biohazard bag
  • If you are tested at a UC San Diego Health location and your result is positive, a healthcare professional will call you with your test results, usually within 24 hours.
  • If your test results are negative, you will receive a notification in MyChart.
  • If you do not have a MyChart account, you will receive a phone call to convey your test result, regardless if it is positive or negative.
  • If you are tested at UC San Diego and you have not received your test results within 48 hours, please call the Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260.

Positive result

  • Stay home (isolate) for 10 days.
  • Isolation can end when:
    • You no longer have a fever and symptoms are gone or resolving, AND
    • You receive a negative test result after completing a rapid antigen test on or after Day 5 (schedule rapid antigen test here), AND
    • You continue to mask around others for the complete 10-day period.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (including trouble breathing), seek emergency medical care immediately.
  • Stay in a separate room from other household members and use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Do not share personal household items like cups, towels and utensils.
  • Wear a mask around others.
  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Do not conduct a COVID-19 PCR test for the next 90 days.
  • More instructions from the CDC on what to do if you are infected with COVID‑19

Required Reporting of Positive Results

  • If you are an employee who tested positive for COVID-19 at a non-UC San Diego Health location or from an at-home rapid antigen test, you must upload a photo of your test results directly to your MyUCSDChart. You will then receive a call. You should also report your positive test on your Symptom Screener and follow the guidance provided. If you have any additional questions or issues reporting, you can reach the Testing Support Line at 619-543-8260. 
  • Per mandate of the County of San Diego, all positive test results must be reported to the County of San Diego, Public Health Department.

Supervisor Information

  • Instructions are available for supervisors and managers to support team members who test positive for COVID-19. This includes guidance for employees on how to report their positive test, how to get cleared to return to on-site work, and how to submit a Potential Workplace Exposure Notification.

Returning to Work

  • For employees working on-site and are tested at UC San Diego Health, you will be provided a Cleared for Work note by the Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 
  • For those who test positive outside of UC San Diego Health, your healthcare provider should provide you with a Release from Work note initially, and later a Cleared for Work note to provide to your supervisor/HR contact.

Employee Leave Options

adult and kid wearing masks

UC San Diego employees are eligible for both short and long-term paid leave options. These may be used for a variety of circumstances, including if you or a family member becomes infected with COVID-19, if you or a family member has been exposed or you are caring for children whose place of care is closed due to the pandemic.

Additional leave protections will be available for all UC San Diego non-academic employees including health system and health sciences who have taken a COVID-19 test pursuant to the required weekly testing program and have tested positive. Such employees will be eligible for paid leave in the work hour equivalent of up to 10 calendar days from the positive test.

Learn more about employee leave options »

Privacy of test results

  • If you are an on-site employee who tests positive at a UC San Diego Health location, your results will be shared with UC San Diego’s Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine (COEM) for campus employees or Infection Prevention/Clinical Epidemiology for Health employees and the UC San Diego Public Health COVID Response Team.
  • In accordance with applicable law, if you are an on-site employee, your supervisor will be informed of the reason why you are not permitted to work on-site to aid in contact tracing and safety efforts, but will be prevented from further sharing the information, to protect your privacy.
  • All test result information will be stored in the Epic health record system. For information about data sharing and privacy related to test results, visit UC San Diego Health Notice of Privacy Practices.

Exposure and Isolation

Close Contact

UC San Diego uses the definition of exposure/close contact established by San Diego County public health officials.

How to share information with a close contact


Those who may have been exposed will be provided a free test through UC San Diego Health.

What to do if you think you’ve been exposed

Case investigation

If you have recently tested positive at UCSD, the UC San Diego Public Health COVID Response team will reach out to you with next steps.

Instructions for isolation


Employees are encouraged to seek counseling support and may reach out to the UC San Diego Faculty and Staff Assistance Program (FSAP). The confidential service offers one-on-one counseling sessions via Zoom or phone. Current and returning clients can contact their counselor directly by phone or email; new clients can request an appointment online. For more information, contact