COVID-19 Symptom Checks FAQs

COVID-19 Testing FAQs

COVID-19 Positive Test Results FAQs

COVID-19 Travel FAQs

COVID-19 Vaccine FAQs

COVID-19 Badge System FAQs

COVID-19 and Student Life FAQs

Staff and Faculty FAQs

Questions about coming to work or other issues related specifically to UCSC employees? See the Keep Teaching site for faculty, or Support for Employees for staff.

Additional Questions

COVID-19 Symptom Checks

Who needs to do daily symptom checks?

See the official policy here. You must do a daily symptom check if:

Who does not need to do daily symptom checks?

  • Students taking remote classes who never come to campus
  • Staff who work fully remotely
You can use the CDC COVID–19 symptom checking tool to check for symptoms.

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

Reminder: you must test on-campus.

Who is 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.

What’s the difference between symptomatic and asymptomatic tests?

  • Symptomatic tests mean that you feel ill or one of your close contacts had a positive COVID-19 test. Symptomatic tests must take place at the Student Health Center by appointment. 
  • Asymptomatic tests mean that you feel fine and have no known close contacts with COVID-19. You would get an asymptomatic test to meet the mandatory testing requirements, or because you need proof of a negative COVID-19 test for some other reason. COVID-19 tests for traveling are a special situation and you can’t use the kiosks - here’s how to get a test for travel purposes.

How can I schedule a test?

See the instructions for students or instructions for staff .

Where and when do the tests take place?

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or are unvaccinated and have had exposure to a COVID-19 positive person, don't go to the testing kiosks! Call for instructions about where to get your test.

  • Students:  call the Nurse Advice Line at 831-459-2591
  • Employees: call your healthcare provider

If you need an on-campus test and don't have symptoms, see the asymptomatic testing kiosk hours . You can schedule with Health e-Messenger . All testing is in the Merrill Cultural Center (map). Please note that the testing kiosk is not open on the weekends, so plan your testing accordingly through the Health e-Messenger system. Parking is free for 20 minutes in designated COVID-19 testing parking.

How much do the tests cost?

  • On-campus tests: Free for enrolled students, including students without UC SHIP.

Can I be exempt from the COVID-19 testing requirement?

Make requests for exemptions from COVID testing by contacting:

  • Medical issues: Send SHS a message via Health e-Messenger using your Gold password. Go to  Messages/New Messages/COVID-19 Question

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.

Is on-campus testing or vaccination available to the general public or alumni?

No, UCSC COVID-19 tests and vaccines are only for active, enrolled students, as well as current staff and faculty. If you are not a current student, staff, or faculty member, visit the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency vaccine website

I've been vaccinated. Do I need to keep wearing masks, and physically distancting?

See the latest guidance for vaccinated people.

Will I need to get tested regularly, even if I’m vaccinated?

The campus will continue its asymptomatic testing program, with a focus on unvaccinated faculty, staff, and students. After you meet the requirement for having one test 5-7 days after arrival on campus - vaccinated students will not be required to test further. Vaccinated students, faculty, and staff will, however, have the option of testing at any time through the asymptomatic testing program. Additionally, testing requirements may change at any time based on campus-wide public health needs.

Vaccinated students who are experiencing possible COVID-related symptoms must consult with Student Health Services and will be asked to test through SHS. If you are vaccinated and an employee, we ask that you go see your primary care doctor.

What if I lost my vaccine card?

You can download a digital copy of your vaccine record on the California Department of Public Health website. Please upload the QR code into Health e-Messenger , and enter the vaccine type and doses, and then you will be in compliance with the policy.

COVID-19 Positive Test Results

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?

If you are not a current student, staff, or faculty member, visit the County of Santa Cruz Health Services Agency vaccine website

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 for the next three months. However, if you begin to feel ill again, stay home and contact SHS or your primary care provider immediately.

If I've already tested positive for COVID-19, do I need to keep doing the asymptomatic tests?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and have fully recovered, you don't need to participate in asymptomatic testing for three months following your positive COVID-19 test. After the three months are done, you may need to get your COVID-19 asymptomatic tests again, based upon the COVID-19 Cohort Testing Strategy Matrix.

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, please see how to get healthcare when the Student Health Center is closed.

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 Questionand make your request. In general, we will respond with your letter within 48 hours.

If my test is positive, will my biospecimen be sequenced?

In the event that you test positive for COVID-19, biospecimens such as blood, tissue, or saliva,  collected from you and/or information obtained from your biospecimen may be used by the  University of California for virus genome sequencing. If used, your biospecimen will be de-identified. The result of viral genome sequencing will be a sequence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus  that was present in your biospecimen; it is not a sequence of your human genome nor does it contain associated genomic information about you. This sequencing is part of an effort to identify emerging COVID-19 variants in the Santa Cruz community, and is consistent with World Health Organization’s emergency committee's recommendation to ramp up genome sequencing to help combat the emerging variants (January 14, 2021). You will not share in any commercial value or profit derived from the use of your biospecimen and/or information obtained from them.

En Español

Si usted da positivo en la prueba de COVID-19, los especímenes biológicos recogidos, como la sangre, el tejido o la saliva, o la información obtenida del espécimen biológico pueden ser usados por University of California para la secuenciación del genoma del virus. Si se usa, el espécimen biológico no se identificará. El resultado de la secuenciación del genoma viral será una secuencia del virus SARS-CoV-2 que estaba presente en el espécimen biológico; no es una secuencia de su genoma humano ni contiene información genómica relacionada a usted.

Esta secuenciación forma parte de una iniciativa para identificar las variantes emergentes de COVID-19 en la comunidad de Santa Cruz, y es coherente con la recomendación del comité de emergencia de la Organización Mundial de la Salud de intensificar la secuenciación del genoma para ayudar a combatir las variantes emergentes (14 de enero de 2021). Usted no tendrá derecho a ningún valor o beneficio comercial derivado del uso de los especímenes biológicos o de la información obtenida de ellos.

If I test positive for COVID-19, how will you ensure my privacy?

We take privacy and data protection seriously. All Student Health Services staff trained annually in HIPAA privacy practices, and all our technology is HIPAA-compliant. If you test positive, we only share your information if it poses a risk to a campus.

If I've tested positive for COVID-19 and have fully recovered, do I need to keep doing the asymptomatic tests?

If you tested positive for COVID-19 and have fully recovered, you don't need to participate in asymptomatic testing for three months following your positive COVID-19 test. After the three months are done, you may need to resume COVID-19 asymptomatic testing, based upon the COVID-19 Cohort Testing Strategy Matrix. However if you develop COVID-19 symptoms, contact your healthcare provider and do not come to campus.

If I've tested positive for COVID-19 and have recovered, do I need to keep doing the daily screening surveys?

Yes, continue to complete the daily screening surveys for every day that you're coming to campus.

COVID-19 Travel

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

How can I get proof of a negative COVID-19 test before traveling on an airplane?

If you're planning to travel and need proof of a negative COVID-19 test in order to fly, do not schedule a kiosk appointment online. The kiosks may not be able to process your test in time for your flight. For fastest service, call the health center at 831-459-2500 at least three days before you fly. Make sure to tell us you need a COVID-19 test for travel and we will make an appointment for you.

Another option is to contact the San Jose Airport about their testing options.

COVID-19: Badge System FAQs

How does the badge system work?

The campus will again be instituting its badge system for students in Health e-Messenger. The badge shows your compliance status with the Policy.You may need to show this badge when you participate in UCSC activities like eating at dining halls, attending in-person classes, etc. To see your badge status, which will be activated one week before classes start, go to your Health e-Messenger home screen and select Show Badge. The badge will display the following colors, depending on your level of compliance:

  • GREEN (CLEARED): You can come to campus and be on-site. You must still follow all UCSC COVID-related protocols.
  • YELLOW (OVERDUE):You may come to campus/on-site, but you are late for your required every four day COVID-19 test and/or you have not completed your daily symptom screening survey. You must take immediate action. Please note that access to campus services, such as dining, campus business services, advising, classes and labs, recreational facilities, libraries and transit, etc., may be impacted.
  • RED (NOT CLEARED, IN QUARANTINE OR ISOLATION):You cannotbe on campus/on site except to access healthcare services at the Student Health Center. This means you are:
    • Not in compliance with UC COVID-19 Vaccination Policy: Log on to Health e-Messenger and submit proof of vaccination or exemption request.
    • Quarantine: Until your healthcare provider says it’s OK to leave, you are advised to stay at home but may go out for a walk with face covering, avoiding other people. Quarantine is used for people who were exposed to COVID-19. Usually quarantine lasts 10-14 days from the day of exposure.
    • Isolation: Stay home until your healthcare provider says it’s OK to leave. Isolation is used to separate sick people from others. Isolation usually lasts 10-14 days from the first day of symptoms, providing all symptoms are improving and you have no fever for 24 hours (without using a fever-reducing medication like Tylenol).
  • BLUE (NOT APPLICABLE):Your badge is not used for access to any site. This likely means the UC COVID-19 Vaccination Policy is not applicable because you are not coming to campus or any university site for any reason or, if you are an employee, because your compliance with the Policy is not tracked through the badge system. If you see Blue and believe it to be an error, please contact Student Health Services to resolve the issue.

My badge is yellow or red, but I completed all of my immunization requirements. What should I do?

Please call the Student Health Center during regular business hours to resolve this issue at 831-459-2211. To see the color of your badge, go to your Health e-Messenger home screen and select Show Badge. You may need to show this badge when you participate in UCSC activities like eating at dining halls, attending in-person classes, and accessing campus buildings. We recommend “practicing” checking your badge before you come to campus to ensure your badge is functioning correctly. If you are a residential student, your badge will be activated one week before move-in.

What will happen to me if I’m done with quarantine or isolation? How do I know if I have been cleared?

Your badge should turn green, and you will be cleared to return to class and other activities.

Where will badges be checked?

Specific examples of locations where you may be asked to show your badge include, but are not limited to:

  • Classes and Research Labs
  • Dining Services and Eateries
  • Library Services
  • Recreational Facilities and Activities
  • Athletic Events
  • Campus Transit
  • Indoor and Outdoor Event Venues
  • Travel Programs
  • Field Research
  • Health Services
  • In-person Advising Services
  • Housing

I don’t have a mobile/smart phone. How can I share my badge?

If you don’t have a mobile phone, you can provide badge documentation via iPad, laptop or display a hard copy of the badge that shows its timestamp. Students with a technology need can also contact Slug Support at to request a tool to assist them.

COVID-19 and Student Life

What should I do before returning to campus housing?

Visit Information on COVID-19 and student housing.

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.

What about sex during COVID-19?

Sex is a normal 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 increases 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, see the cleaning and safety tip sheets by UCSC Student Housing Services.

What low-risk, fun activities can I do with my friends or family?

There are relatively safe ways for us to be active, social, and entertained. Take a look at the list below and consider how you may apply the recommendations from the CDC and WHO to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Individual risk for interacting with others depends on many factors, all of which may not be captured in the table below.

In addition to being High Risk, many activities in bold/strikethrough may also constitute violations of the UCSC Interim Public Health Policy and/or other policies. You are encouraged to review these documents carefully and ask University Student Conduct or Residential Life staff if you have any questions.




Virtual dinner party

Outdoor dinner with vaccinated friends

Dining with others in a busy restaurant or other enclosed space

Hike or walk with physical distancing

Camping with vaccinated friends

Watching sports with a large group indoors

Virtual trivia night

Outdoor gathering with vaccinated friends

Large indoor gathering on campus

Virtual movie “watch” party

Movie night with vaccinated friends

Large forest party

Virtual painting, cooking, or other course

Painting/Cooking night with vaccinated friends

Going to a bar (if over 21)

Virtual student organization meeting

Student study group meeting outdoors with physical distancing, mask wearing, hand washing

Indoor student group/study group meeting

Outdoor date with your established partner in a monogamous relationship after discussing expectations and boundaries

First date outdoors with physical distance- without touching

Hook-up with a new partner

Beer with your apartment-mate (if age 21+)

Beer outdoors off campus with vaccinated friends (if age 21+)

Attending a house party off campus

Virtual study session

Study session with vaccinated friends

Study session inddors at a coffee shop with vaccinated friends

Virtual celebration

Birthday celebration in the quad with vaccinated friends

Social gathering in a small enclosed space such as a residence hall room or campus  apartment

Virtual sightseeing tour

Weekend getaway to rental house with established partner- BYO cleaning supplies

Travel by train, bus, taxi or Uber or riding in a car with others

Virtual meditation

Outdoor yoga class with vaccinated friends

Indoor exercise class with strangers

Distanced outdoor activity with vaccinated friends (such as biking)

Frisbee golf with physical distancing

Indoor basketball game off campus

Virtual fitness class from OPERS Recreation

Outdoor meditation session

Indoor meditation session

Virtual study group with friends and classmates

In-person study group with vaccinated friends

Riding in a car with others

Virtual game night using House Party app

Outdoor game night with vaccinated friends

Game night in your apartment with unvaccinated people

Surfing with your roommate

Kayaking with vaccinated friends

Skiing at a ski resort/Surfing with the crowds at Cowell’s

(Adapted from Source: Northern Arizona University)

Can I get or give COVID-19 through a pet? 

While possible, it is very unlikely. See the CDC's guidance on what to do if you have pets.


  • Emergencies: call 911
  • Health-related COVID-19 student questions: Log into Health e-Messenger and select Messages > New Message >COVID-19 Questions
  • Employee questions: Contact your primary care provider
  • Other resources: 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
  • Latest COVID-19 News from the Student Health Center
  • Student Housing FAQs

Back to the SHC COVID-19 Home