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Student Symptom Screening and COVID-19 Testing

On this page you will find information about the daily symptom and exposure screening, COVID-19 testing, post move-in instructions, what to do if you have symptoms, what to do if you receive a positive result, exposure and contact tracing, quarantine and isolation housing and mental health support.

Daily Symptom Screening

On-campus students and students coming to campus: required

All undergraduate and graduate students living on campus or coming to campus or any UC location or property for educational, research, co-curricular, recreational or social activities, regardless of vaccination status, must conduct daily symptom and exposure screening. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must conduct a test. Student employees, including teaching assistants, should only use the student daily screener.

Remote students not coming to campus: recommended

All undergraduate and graduate students who are living off-campus and studying remotely are strongly encouraged to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 and conduct a daily self-screening in order to consistently monitor their health and quickly schedule testing, if the need arises. If you develop symptoms of COVID-19, you must conduct a test.

Register for the daily screener

What Do the Thumbs Mean?

All UC San Diego students who are on 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 and attend class on-campus, 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 Testing

All undergraduate and graduate students have access to free symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing through Student Health Services or UC San Diego Health, including tests in vending machines distributed across campus.

Testing Requirements

Required twice weekly asymptomatic COVID-19 PCR testing (every 3-5 days):

  • If you have received the initial vaccination doses and you received your booster less than 7 days ago
  • If you have received the initial vaccination doses and you are eligible for a booster but you have not yet received a booster
  • If you have not received the initial vaccination doses or you are unvaccinated

Routine asymptomatic testing is not required for students who are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccination status

Also test if:

  • You develop symptoms of COVID-19.
  • There is a positive wastewater signal in your building.
  • You are a fully remote unvaccinated student who plans to come to campus for any reason (required to test within 72 hours of arrival and on the day of arrival).

Vaccination Status Definitions

What does it mean to be fully vaccinated?

  • You have received a booster shot and it has been 7 days or more since your booster shot, or
  • You have received the complete initial vaccination dose(s) and you are not yet eligible for a booster.

What is considered not fully vaccinated?

  • You have received a booster shot and it has been less than 7 days since your booster shot;
  • You have received a complete initial vaccine series and are eligible for a booster shot, but have not yet received one;
  • You did not complete the initial vaccine series;
  • You have not received any vaccines.

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

Numerous vending machines are available across campus to pick up a self-administered test kit, which must be returned at a drop box near a vending machine no later than 72 hours after picking up a kit. Please submit your sample by 2 p.m. for the most timely return of results. Samples submitted after 2 p.m. will not be picked up until 8 a.m. the following day.

Asymptomatic students and those with mild symptoms may test through the vending machine process. 

How to Use the COVID-19 Test Kit Vending Machine

Watch a video here about how to complete the self-administered test. Please see instructions for the self-administered test in English here and in Spanish here. Or download a pdf guide on how to conduct the test here.

Students 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.

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. 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 “Student Health and Well-Being” as the provider for MyStudentChart. 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.

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. 

Vending Machine Hours and Locations

Monday - Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
*Please note the Price Center vending machine weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Muir College | Roots Restaurant (map)(unavailable during summer)
  • 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)(unavailable during summer)
  • Warren College | Across from the Residence Life Office (map)(unavailable during summer)
  • Eleanor Roosevelt College | Next to the Laundry Room at Student Activity Center (map)(unavailable during summer)
  • Village at Pepper Canyon | Lodge (map)(unavailable during summer)
  • 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)(unavailable during summer)
  • 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)(unavailable during summer)
  • Gilman Parking | Pepper Canyon Hall Corridor (map)
  • North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood (map)
  • Rita Atkinson Residences (map)(unavailable during summer)
  • Torrey Pines Center South | Second floor breezeway near shuttle (map)

Make an Appointment for Provider-Administered Drive-Up and Walk-Through Testing

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 link below. Note that drive-up appointments may have limited availability.

Provider-Administered Testing Locations

Price Center (Walk-Up) — By Appointment Only
UC San Diego Campus | Price Center East, Ballroom B
Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 8 AM - 12 PM and 1 PM - 4 PM
Tuesday: 7 AM - 12 PM and 1 PM - 6 PM
Thursday: 9 AM - 12 PM and 1 PM - 4 PM
Saturday: 9 AM - 3 PM
Sunday: Closed

La Jolla (Drive-Up) — By Appointment Only
9331 Athena Circle, La Jolla, CA 92037
Hours: 8 AM - 12 PM and 1PM - 6:30 PM
Located in parking lot number P782

Community Testing (Spouses, partners and family members; contractors, volunteers)

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, you may be eligible for free testing through a provider-administered testing site, such as at the Price Center clinic or a drive thru location. Contact RTL@ucsd.edu to determine if you are eligible.

Residential Student Testing 

Students who live in campus housing are required to comply with mandatory COVID-19 testing, daily symptom screening, and masking guidance; isolate if they receive a positive COVID-19 test result; and follow quarantine guidance if they are exposed to COVID-19. Learn more about additional precautions for student residents on the Student Housing Safety page.

Students with symptomS

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, stay in your residence, do not attend any in-person classes, and complete the daily symptom and exposure screener to receive guidance from a campus health care representative, including conducting a test.
  • If you live in the San Diego area and report symptoms of COVID-19, you will be contacted by the UC San Diego Health Testing Support line (you can also call them directly at 619-543-8260). They will help you determine if you should be tested sooner than your next scheduled test.
  • Symptomatic and exposure testing is available for all undergraduate and graduate students, offered through the vending machines, at the Price Center or any UC San Diego Health location.
  • You may also choose to visit your own healthcare provider for testing. If you receive a positive test from a non-UC San Diego Health location, you must report your results to UC San Diego’s Student Health Services by calling (858) 534-3300.

Positive result

scientist holding biohazard positive COVID-19 test
  • If you test positive, do not leave your residence or suite. You will receive a phone call from Student Health Services with additional guidance on medical care.
  • Students residing on campus will need to move into isolation housing. Graduate students living with family members may be able to isolate in their residence, if approved by Student Health Services.
  • Isolation will continue for 10 days unless:
    • 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 (rapid antigen test will be provided in isolation housing arrival packet), AND
    • You continue to mask around others for the complete 10-day period.
  • After Day 5, if students have a negative rapid antigen test and no symptoms, Student Health Services will assess their release from isolation housing. Students will also need to agree to remain masked at all times when around others through Day 10.
  • The UC San Diego Public Health Contact Tracing Team will contact you to help determine if other campus students or employees may have been exposed.
  • Do not conduct another COVID-19 test for the next 90 days.

What happens if you receive a positive result »

Exposure and Contact Tracing

Close Contact

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

Definition of a close contact

Exposure

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 are a close contact, the UC San Diego contact tracing team will reach out to you with next steps.

Instructions for close contacts

Quarantine and Isolation Housing for Students

students getting ready to quarantine
books icon

Isolation and quarantine housing are available for undergraduate and graduate students who test positive for COVID-19 during the academic year. Graduate students may choose to isolate themselves in their apartment with their family with consultation from Student Health Services. What’s the difference between quarantine and isolation housing?

money icon

Students with an on-campus housing contract will not be charged extra for isolation housing. Learn more on the HDH FAQ page.

meal icon

Meals will be delivered to isolation housing three times a day, charged to students’ dining meal plan or billed to their housing account. Costs are $8 for breakfast, $11 for lunch and $11 for dinner. Meal charges will be applied to the student’s dining plan. Students without a dining plan will be billed through their housing/student account.

testing icon

You will receive care from Student Health and Well-being Services. 

Student Contacts During Quarantine and Isolation

Undergraduate Students

Undergraduate students may reach out to the Dean of Student Affairs in their college. Deans can assist with notifying your instructor about absences, connecting you with campus resources, retrieving items from your on-campus residential hall room or apartment (if needed), and helping to answer non-medical questions.

Graduate Students

Support

There are many new and existing resources available to help maintain mental and emotional wellness during the pandemic. Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) offers confidential counseling and psychiatric services for registered students via telemedicine video visits. To start the process, schedule a brief telephone assessment by calling (858) 534-3755 or online through MyStudentChart. In addition, CAPS offers drop-in virtual workshops to help develop coping skills to increase resilience and wellbeing during this pandemic, as well as free, self-guided mental health technologies through iFlourish.