COVID-19 FAQs


COVID-19 General Information

What are the common symptoms of COVID-19?
Some common symptoms include:
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Nasal congestion or runny nose
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of smell or taste
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider or the Student Health Center, or 911 for an emergency. Do not come to the on-site campus. The Student Health Center can assess if you will need to self-quarantine and provide quarantine resources.

How do I avoid COVID-19?
The CDC has a great list of things you can do to avoid COVID-19 and a Symptom Checker for a self-assessment. The UCSC Recovery site also has excellent tips on how to curb COVID-19 on the UCSC campus. In general, you want to avoid close contact with others, wear a mask in public places, practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of six feet from those outside your household, avoid large gatherings, wash your hands frequently, and clean and disinfect your home and possessions regularly.

What should I do if I think I have COVID-19 or feel sick? 
Do not go to an urgent care facility or come to the Student Health Center without first speaking to a healthcare provider by phone or video. Instead:

If you experience symptoms while you are on campus/on-site at a UCSC property:

  1. Immediately isolate yourself from others and wear a face covering if not already doing so.
  2. Contact your healthcare provider or the Student Health Center for further assessment.
  3. Students, notify your on-site class professors that you will not be able to attend on-site class.  You and your professors can discuss whether you are able to attend class or submit your assignment remotely that day.

Who can I talk to if I have questions about COVID-19 and my health?
The Santa Cruz County Call Center is available at (831) 454-4242 from 8 am - 6 pm everyday. Outside of these hours, call 2-1-1 (United Way of Santa Cruz County), text: "covid19" to 211211, or visit the 211 website. UCSC students may call the Nurse Advice Line at 831-459-2591 with health concerns. Staff and faculty should call their healthcare provider.

Should I wear a mask or face covering? How do I make a mask?
Yes. Californians and Banana Slugs must wear face coverings in common and public indoor spaces and outdoors when distancing is not possible. Read more about the guidance and limited exceptions, and get more information from UCSC's Recovery site.

Santa Cruz County requires staff and customers at essential businesses to wear face coverings to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Read the full order, a helpful face covering FAQ from the county, and some face covering tips in English and Spanish. You can make your own masks with materials you have at home. You don't need to sew. Learn how with these links:

Face coverings can be homemade masks, bandanas, scarves, or other permeable materials without holes. Try to use at least two layers in your mask. Make sure it fits snugly and allows you to breathe easily. Wash them regularly and be careful not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth when taking it on or off. And remember, a mask does not offer 100% protection, so continue to stay 6 feet away from others.

What does Shelter in Place mean?
At times the County of Santa Cruz has issued Shelter In Place directives to avoid the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). "Shelter in Place" means that everyone must stay in their homes and only travel for essential needs. Read the county's Shelter in Place FAQ to learn more, and to see what counts as an essential need. The rules for Sheltering in Place update frequently and vary by county and can be different from week to week depending on the amount of COVID-19 cases. Check your county's health department website for the most current information. Santa Cruz county residents can visit the Santa Cruz's Health Services Agency website.

Should I take hydroxychloroquine or consume disinfectants?
Research has shown that hydroxychloroquine can cause dangerous heart issues. The Food and Drug Administration asks that you avoid this medication unless instructed by your healthcare provider. Do not try to kill coronavirus by injecting or ingesting household disinfectants or cleansers. Bleach, Lysol, etc. are not safe to consume. Putting them in your body can kill or seriously harm you. Use them on household surfaces only.

What is UCSC doing to manage COVID-19?
UCSC is working hard to keep campus safe. See all campus updates, including news from beyond Student Health Services, at the official UCSC COVID-19 recovery website. Student Health Services follows the CDC's guidelines for preventing the spread of disease.

What steps will UCSC take when the campus is notified that a student has been exposed to COVID–19 or has been confirmed to have COVID–19?

COVID 19 tests conducted through Student Health Services that result in a confirmed COVID–19 result will be reported to County Public Health, as required. Students who may have been exposed to COVID–19 will be informed of any risks and proper measures to follow.

What should I do if I'm currently traveling abroad or will soon return to UCSC?
Any students returning from a country with widespread ongoing transmission of COVID-19, contact SHS at 831-459-2519 for information about required self-quarantining, health monitoring and other support. If you're diagnosed with COVID-19 while away from campus, please call Student Health Services at 831-459-2591 so that we can be aware and coordinate care if needed. See the UCSC Global Engagement websites below for the most current requirements about self-quarantine and travel restrictions


COVID-19 Symptom Checks

What is the COVID-19 policy for the symptom check health screening process?

See the official policy here.

Do I have to complete the symptom check if I am attending classes remotely from home?
No, this protocol does not apply to students attending classes from home. If you are  attending classes from home and wish to Check for COVID–19 symptoms, visit the CDC COVID–19 symptom checking site.

What if I am a student attending class remotely, but I come on-site occasionally?
Go to Health e-Messenger and complete a symptom check survey each day that you intend to visit a UCSC property.

Must scheduled guests or campus visitors of the university participate in the symptom screenings?
No. However, visitors must observe and follow current public health orders or campus policies for COVID–19 safety.

Are students' symptom check reports private?
UCSC will maintain individual privacy of the COVID–19 Symptom Check reports. This information will not be maintained in your student file.



COVID-19 Testing

What is the COVID-19 policy for COVID-19 testing?

See the official policy here.

Am I required to get a test?

See the COVID-19 Testing Strategy Matrix to see if you fall into a group that has mandatory (required) testing.

How can I schedule a test?
See the instructions for students or instructions for staff.

Where do the tests take place?
COVID-19 Tests take place at:

1) Merrill Cultural Center in Merrill College (map)

This video shows how to get from the Merrill Parking Lot to the Cultural Center:

2) Namaste Student Lounge at College Nine across from the Student Health Center (map).

This video shows how to get from the bus stop outside of College 9  to the Namaste Student Lounge:

 3) George P. Hitchcock Lounge in the Porter College C building (map)

How much do the tests cost?
Tests are free to UCSC students, including those without UC SHIP.

What does Student Health Services do to ensure safety at the testing sites?

Safety is our primary concern and we take every effort to limit the spread of COVID-19 (and influenza) at the testing sites. Our techniques include:

  • enforcing masking and distancing
  • using disinfectant sprays and wipes in the swabbing areas frequently
  • ensuring good air circulation
  • limiting the testing sites to asymptomatic people.

Our testing site program was recently reviewed by the Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency and they found our practices to be aligned with best public health practices. If you are concerned about proximity to others at the testing sites, please call us and we can discuss alternate arrangements for you.

Where can I get a test if I can’t get to campus easily or if campus is closed? 

Here are a few options:

I'm in a mandatory testing group, but I can't get a test. What do I do? 

We apologize for the inconvenience! Please bear with us while we increase our testing capacity. More appointments will open up soon.

How do I interpret my test result (positive or negative)?

See How to Interpret Your COVID-19 Test Report for information about positive and negative test results.

What happens if I get a positive COVID-19 test?
SHC staff will contact you by phone. They will provide information about managing your symptoms, reducing the spread to others and will explain how long you may need to stay home. You will also receive a new daily symptom screening survey that's different than the one you've taken before. Make sure you complete it every day so that we are aware of your health and can help you if needed.

Who is notified of my positive test result?
Your privacy is of the utmost importance to us, but the county health department mandates that we report all positive COVID-19 tests. In addition, your close contacts will be notified and their risks and needs will be assessed.

If I test positive, where can my roommates/partners who are not UCSC-affiliated get tested?
Santa Cruz County residents can visit the County's website for information on how to get a test. If your household is outside of Santa Cruz county, check here for testing locations. See helpful information in Slow the Spread of COVID-19 While Sheltering With Others from the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency.

How long will I have to stay home?
In general, you will stay home for ten days from the onset of your symptoms. If you don't have symptoms but have a positive test, stay home for ten days starting on the day you took the test. Your provider may have additional guidelines for you.

How long will my test remain positive? Do I need another test?
You can remain positive for COVID-19 for up to three months after your positive test result. However, doesn't always mean you are contagious. Typically you would not need another test during the quarter. However, if you begin to feel ill again, stay home and contact SHS or your primary care provider immediately.

Is there help for me on campus if I need quarantine housing, groceries or meals?
Yes. When we contact you with a positive result, we discuss what resources you will need. UCSC has many resources to help you, including meal delivery, quarantine housing, etc.

What should I do if tested positive and my symptoms are getting worse?
Call 911 if it's an emergency. During business hours call the SHC Advice Nurse at 831-459-2591. If it's after hours, see our After Hours Sheet about how to get help.

Do I have to get a letter to return to work/campus?
You don't need a letter to return to campus. Your Clearance Badge (students) or Qualtrics results (staff) will let UCSC staff know when you are clear to return. If you work off-campus and your employer needs a letter from us, log into Health e-Messenger to request a letter. Go to Messages, New Messages, and COVID-19 Question and make your request. In general, we will respond with your letter within 48 hours.


COVID-19 and Student Life

I'm young and healthy, so why should I take COVID-19 and social distancing seriously?
Going to college has probably meant meeting and being with new people, but social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic is important—even for young and healthy people. Here are some common misconceptions about social distancing, and how these beliefs can be a real danger.
  • “COVID-19 won’t hurt young people like me.” The CDC reports "During June–August 2020, COVID-19 incidence was highest in persons aged 20–29 years, who accounted for >20% of all confirmed cases." So yes, it can hurt young and otherwise healthy people. Masking and social distancing reduces that risk.
  • “I’m not sick, so I don’t need to socially distance myself.” You could easily spread the disease—without knowing you have it—to grandparents, older neighbors, and your friends and family with health conditions like diabetes, asthma, heart conditions, etc. Social distancing reduces this possibility. 
  • “I’m healthy, so COVID-related strain on the healthcare system won’t affect me.” If medical providers and staff are overwhelmed treating an increasing number of COVID-19 patients, they may not be able to treat people with “ordinary” emergencies like a car accident, appendicitis, or a broken leg. Social distancing reduces the spread of the disease and lessens burden on the healthcare system, so you’re more likely to receive care if you have an emergency.
  • “I’m not going to let a virus stop me from partying.” You may have seen the news stories about students on Spring Break refusing to socially distance. Some of these same students are now sharing apologies. Other students sick with COVID-19 are posting warnings to their peers. Please seriously consider these warnings from other students who were not initially concerned about social distancing.

See “How To Argue For Social Distancing If Your Friend Won't Take It Seriously” for more student-friendly tips.

What should I do if I'm attending a private gathering?

The County of Santa Cruz published some helpful guidance on what to do if you're hosting or attending a private gathering, such as a barbecue, birthday party, or other celebration.

Image of the flyer; click for PDF
Get the Flyer here

What about sex during COVID-19?
Sex is a normal (and fun) part of life! During this extended public health emergency, people will have sex. SHOP's guide helps you think about the ways you can lower your risk for COVID-19 during sex: COVID-19+Sex.

Does vaping increase my risk of COVID-19?
New research shows that vaping and smoking may increase risk of COVID-19. Now is a great time to quit. Contact SHOP for free personal support to quit vaping or smoking.

How should I clean and disinfect my residence hall room?
If you live in a residence hall, check out these new tip sheets by UCSC Student Housing Services. Learn how to clean your room and laundry with COVID-19 in mind, and get some safety tips, too.

COVID-19 Cleaning Tips (click to enlarge)
Safety Advice and Tips (click to enlarge)


Staff and Faculty FAQs

Questions about coming to work or other issues related specifically to UCSC employees? See these staff-focused FAQs on the UCSC Recovery site.

Back to the SHC COVID-19 Home