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Student Symptom Screening and COVID Testing

UC San Diego has scaled up symptomatic and asymptomatic testing efforts through the Return to Learn program to improve the health and safety of our campus community to quickly identify and contain any potential outbreaks of COVID‑19.

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.

What’s the difference?


A survey you complete daily to determine if you are experiencing any symptoms related to COVID-19 or if you have a confirmed exposure to someone who has tested positive.


A medical sampling collected through a nasal swab or saliva sample that is tested to detect whether you currently have active infection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The test works whether you have symptoms or not.

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 must conduct daily symptom and exposure screening.

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.

Why do I need to screen FOR SYMPTOMS?

  • If you develop symptoms, the quickest way to get a test is through the screener tool.
  • Instructors and TAs are permitted to ask students to present their green thumb result on their smartphone, computer or a printout before being allowed to enter the classroom.
  • Your screening information will NOT be a part of your student education records.
  • You will need to know your Active Directory (AD) login credentials to sign in. Go here if you have forgotten and need to reset.

What do the thumbs mean?

Green Thumb icon

Green thumb: You are cleared to come to campus or UC properties. You have no symptoms or exposure and you have completed all required testing (if applicable).

Be sure to follow campus safety guidelines »

Yellow Thumb icon

Yellow thumb: You have been exposed and should be in quarantine. Do not attend in-person classes or come to campus or UC properties.

What to do if you think you’ve been exposed »

Red Thumb icon

Red thumb: You have symptoms that are related to COVID-19 or you have not completed all required testing (if applicable). Do not attend in-person classes or come to campus and begin isolation until you speak with a clinical provider and/or receive your test results.

What to do if you have symptoms »

COVID Testing

drive-thru COVID-19 testing at UC San Diego

All undergraduate and graduate students have access to free symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing through Student Health Services or UC San Diego Health. Our strategy for testing is adaptive; we will adjust our risk-based frequency strategy on who we test and how frequently we test based on the viral activity we find during our ongoing monitoring. 

On-campus students or students coming to campus: weekly testing required

All undergraduate and graduate students living on campus or coming to campus or any UC location/property for educational, research, co-curricular, recreational or social activities are required to participate in free asymptomatic testing on a weekly basis.

Remote-only students: weekly testing recommended

All undergraduate and graduate students living in the San Diego area, studying remotely and not coming to campus or any UC property, are recommended to participate in free asymptomatic testing on a weekly basis.

Option 1: Self-Administered Testing

Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to take part in self-administered testing. Numerous vending machines are available across campus to pick up a test kit, which must be returned within 72 hoursfrom the time the kit is picked up at a drop box near a vending machine. Students may pick up one test kit for their own usage on a weekly basis, unless authorized to test more frequently by Student Health Services.

Asymptomatic students and those with mild symptoms may test through the vending machine process. Students with moderate to severe symptoms should contact Student Health Services. Students may also visit the Price Center for a walk-in self-administered test, no appointment needed.

Please blow your nose prior to completing your nasal swab to ensure accurate results. Watch a video here to learn how to complete the self-administered test. Also, you may find instructions for the self-administered test in English here and in Spanish here

Self-administered testing requirements

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. Know your Active Directory (AD) username and password
    3. 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.
    4. Download the MyChart app and select Student Health and Well-Being as the provider for MyStudentChart. This will allow you to see your results directly.

*For those who prefer an alternative, iPads are available at the Price Center location.

Self-administered testing locations

Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Vending Machines
Monday - Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.*

*Please note the Price Center vending machine weekend hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The Price Center Clinic and Price Center vending machine will be closed on Monday, Jan. 18 in observance of MLK Day. All other campus vending machines will be available for use.

Students may now pick up a self-administered COVID-19 test kit at one of numerous vending machines across campus. Samples should be returned within 72 hoursfrom the time the kit is picked upat drop boxes next to the vending machines.

Vending machine locations:

  • 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)
  • Torrey Pines Center South | Coming soon
  • Osler Parking Garage | Coming soon
  • North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood | Coming soon
  • Coast Apartments | Coming soon
  • Biomedical Research Facility II | Coming soon
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography | Coming soon
  • Jacobs School of Engineering  | Coming soon
  • Career Services Center | Coming soon
  • Revelle College | Coming soon

Option 2: Provider-Administered Testing

For those who would like to schedule a drive-thru appointment, please use the link below. Note that drive-thru appointments are currently in very high demand and may have limited appointments available. 

What happens if I don’t test weekly?

Unless granted a special exemption approved by Student Health Services, students who are on-campus and have not been tested for more than 9 days will be referred to the Student Conduct Office for the progressive discipline process. See the the full noncompliance policy.

What if I get a test outside of UC San Diego to fulfill my requirement?

For students who complete their COVID-19 test outside of UC San Diego, please send an email to and attach your result as well as your PID to ensure correct attribution. Your result will be added into your student health chart.

Why do I need to test?

  • Asymptomatic testing is a collective public health program that helps minimize transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and detect outbreaks early.
  • Young people may not develop symptoms if they are infected, and if symptoms do occur, they may not show for up to 14 days after initial exposure.

Testing after move-in or a prolonged absence 

After you are tested and move-in to your campus residence, you will need to limit your movement and interactions for a period of time. We are asking all students to follow additional precautions during the first few weeks after arrival to minimize the chance of any student inadvertently introducing virus into the community.

  • After move-in, within your residential unit, you will need to continue to mask and maintain physical distance except when you are in your personal bedroom or the shower.
  • After all students in the residential unit have been on-site for 12 days, you will be retested for COVID-19.
  • Students living in campus-operated housing are required to maintain distance and wear masks at all times within their apartments and suites, except in their own bedrooms and the shower.
  • Each day complete your daily symptom and exposure screen. If at any time you develop symptoms, you will need to retest for COVID-19 right away. Should you test positive, you will be moved to isolation housing on campus until you recover and can return to your residential unit.
  • At all times when you are outside of your residential unit, you should be masking and maintaining a physical distance with others. To eat or exercise, you may remove your mask, but you will need to maintain a 6-foot distance from others at all times.
  • Any student who resides in campus-operated housing and who engages in any off-campus unmasked activity (sharing a meal, recreational activities, gatherings, etc.) is required to sequester for 14 days within their residential unit upon returning to campus. Sequestration requires the individual not only to be masked and distanced within the residential unit (with the exception of their personal bedroom and the shower) and to complete the daily screener, but also undergo additional COVID-19 testing on days 1, 5 and 10 after returning to campus.
  • You must report if you will be leaving the campus for 18 hours or longer by completing the Returning Home Notification form available in the Housing Portal.

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.
  • 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 at no cost if completed through Student Health Services 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.

What do I do if I have symptoms and I am waiting for test results?

  • You should behave as if you have been infected and can infect others while you are waiting for your results.
  • Do not leave your residence or suite; remain in an isolated room alone.
  • Do not attend in-person classes. If you are a student employee, do not report to work on-site.
  • Wear a face covering if you enter common areas and avoid contact with others, including roommates.
  • Wash your hands before leaving your room or when coming into contact with others.

How will I be notified of my test result?

  • If you are tested at UC San Diego and your result is positive, you will usually receive a phone call within 24 hours.
  • If you were tested at UC San Diego and your result is negative, you will receive a notification in MyStudentChart usually within 24 hours.
  • If you are tested at UC San Diego and you have not received your test results within 48 hours, please call Student Health Services at 858-534-3300.
  • If you are a student who tests negative at a clinic outside UC San Diego, please send an email to and attach your result as well as your PID to ensure correct attribution. If you test positive at a clinic outside UC San Diego, contact Student Health Services at 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.
  • Undergraduate students may be moved into on-campus isolation housing. Graduate students may choose to isolate themselves in their apartment.
  • The UC San Diego contact tracing team will contact you to help determine if other campus students or employees may have been exposed.

What happens if you receive a positive result »

Exposure and Contact Tracing

Close contact

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

Definition of 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 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

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 account.

calendar icon

If you are exposed to someone with COVID-19, you will be required to quarantine for 14 days; you may or may not, subject to the University's sole discretion, be able to complete this quarantine in your own residence.

testing icon

You will receive care from Student Health and Well-being Services. You will be tested for the virus between days five and 10 after the date of the last known exposure.

bed icon

There are 300 beds available for asymptomatic quarantine and another 300 beds available for symptomatic isolation for students.

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


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.