On-Campus COVID-19 Testing
An effective testing program is a crucial part of minimizing the spread of COVID-19 in a community, and testing innovations developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are helping in-person activities to resume on campus.
This page has a variety of information about on-campus COVID-19 testing. If you have any questions about testing, please send them to email@example.com or call 217-333-1900.
On This Page
Our on-campus testing sites administer innovative saliva-based tests, a process developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team. Unlike conventional nasal testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively.
More information on the science behind the Illinois saliva-based test is available below.
Presently, the test is only available to current students, faculty and staff at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who have active NetIDs and iCards.
The test is free.
Before getting tested
You should refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, gum chewing, and tobacco use for at least one hour before submitting your saliva sample at the test location.
Make sure you bring your current iCard or have the Safer Illinois app downloaded.
While you line up outside the testing location, you should wear a face covering and practice social distancing.
The testing process
You will be asked to provide a saliva sample. The sample collection only takes a few minutes.
Step-by-step testing process
- Have you had anything to eat, drink, smoke or chew in the last 60 minutes?
- You will then swipe your i-card or show your Status Card QR code in the Safer Illinois app so we can locate your record.
- Is the cell phone number listed correct? This number will be used if you test positive or for contact tracing. You must respond to calls to this number or risk disciplinary action.
- Is the address listed correct?
You can choose to not answer the next two questions, in which case “unknown” will be selected. The Illinois Department of Public Health has requested we ask each person’s race who is tested on-campus. Providing this information is optional for each person who is tested.
- Do you identify as Hispanic/Latino?
- What race do you most identify with?
Individuals will verify that their name is correct on the test tube label. Next, you will move to a saliva station where you will take the lid off the test tube and dribble saliva into the tube until you have filled ¾ of the cone with saliva. Once complete, replace the lid and take the tube to the collection station.
At collection, you will hold up your test tube so staff can confirm that there is enough saliva in the tube. Staff will ask that you return to a test station if enough saliva is not in the tube.
Individuals will be asked the following questions at collection so staff know which tub to direct you to:
- Do you have any COVID symptoms? Have you recently received an exposure notification? Do you have reason to believe you are at high risk for COVID?
You will be offered a copy of a COVID-19 Test Fact Sheet for Patients. If you do not want to take a physical copy, an online copy is available in PDF format.
Getting Your Results
Typical test results are expected within 5 hours, but results could take up to 48 hours.
Faculty, staff and students will be emailed when their results are available in the McKinley Health Center Patient Portal.
If you have not used the McKinley Health Center Patient Portal before, you can check for results by logging in with your University of Illinois NetID and password and clicking on the Messages icon. You will need to use 2-Factor Authentication (2FA) to log in. Support information for getting 2FA set up is available online. If your test results are available, you will see a secure message for your Saliva COVID test results.
How Results Are Processed and Stored
On-campus COVID-19 test results are analyzed, exported, validated, and pushed for recording in Medicat, the secure electronic health record used by McKinley Health Center. From Medicat, the test results are reported to the Illinois Department of Public Health and Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, which will contact individuals who test positive. Saliva samples are collected for COVID-19 testing only unless individuals have agreed to participate in a COVID-19 research study.
Questions about testing and results
The University of Illinois COVID Wellness Answer Center is available to answer questions about on-campus testing and results.
Please contact the COVID Wellness Answer Center by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 217-333-1900.
How often to get tested
All university faculty, staff and students participating in any on-campus activities are required to participate in the on-campus COVID-19 testing program.
If you are working on-campus, attending in-person classes or participating in any on-campus activities, you will need to participate in the on-campus testing program.
All students living on-campus or residing in Champaign, Urbana, or Savoy must test, even if they are taking a fully online schedule.
If you are an employee who is not planning to come to campus you will not be required to be tested. Students enrolled in fully online programs, regardless of location, are excused from testing. Example of fully online programs include the iMBA or the Online Master of Computer Science degree.
But any employee or student coming to campus for any length of time must be tested in accordance with current campus requirements.
The university is helping students, faculty and staff create a testing schedule that specifies which days to get tested. You can visit any of the on-campus COVID-19 testing locations to participate in the testing program.
- For Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students:
- All faculty, staff and graduate students should move to a once-per-week test schedule. Even though not required, you may continue on a twice-weekly schedule if you choose.
- If at all possible, please test on Saturdays or Sundays. If weekends are not possible for you, please test on Wednesdays. This will help even the number of tests to be processed each day and will mean shorter lines and faster results for everyone.
- Faculty, staff and graduate students must still show a Wellness Support Associate their Safer Illinois app or Boarding Pass at building entrances. WSAs will work to implement this change. You should also bring your i-card to show you are part of this testing group.
- For Undergraduate Students:
- You must continue your twice-per-week test schedule. You can choose Monday-Thursday, Tuesday-Friday, or Wednesday-Saturday/Sunday, schedules. Undergraduate students must still show a Wellness Support Associate their Safer Illinois app or Boarding Pass at building entrances.
- Some undergraduate students may be directly contacted and asked to test three times a week if we believe you might have a higher risk of recent exposure.
To participate in on-campus activities, you must participate in the on-campus testing program. If you do get a positive COVID-19 result from an off-campus testing location, you are required to notify the Champaign Urbana Public Health District. A person who tests outside of the on-campus testing should report any positive result to the Champaign Urbana Public Health District (CUPHD) and give CUPHD permission to notify the university.
On-Campus Testing Data
Data about the on-campus testing program, including number of daily tests performed and positivity rates, are available online.
The University of Illinois Saliva test
Our on-campus testing sites administer innovative saliva-based tests, a process developed by the COVID-19 SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team. Unlike conventional nasal testing, saliva samples are collected non-invasively, without healthcare workers and with minimal use of PPE.
The lab used to process the samples has achieved regulatory compliance necessary to perform High Complexity testing under federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) guidelines.
Under ordinary circumstances, a test to detect a virus might be subjected to a review process of several years before it is put into production. But against the context of a global pandemic, there are established federal review processes that deliberately accelerate the launch and approval of new testing methods. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is following these approval processes.
Our test asks individuals to provide a saliva sample. Science tells us saliva is the medium that matters most, because that is how COVID-19 is spread. Our saliva test from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been approved by our Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified lab director. We have posted the data that led to this approval.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is now performing its new rapid, saliva-based COVID-19 test on all students, faculty and staff. The university validated its laboratory-developed test under CLIA by successfully comparing its performance to an FDA Emergency Use Authorized test.
Compared to the nasal test, the saliva-based test is fast, free of supply chain bottlenecks and cost-effective, because saliva tests do not require nasal swabs, etc.
Our saliva test, compared to other saliva tests, skips RNA-isolation (a cumbersome process) which allows quicker results. Our test is faster, cheaper and eliminates a key supply-chain bottleneck.
Our studies to date are consistent with this new saliva test not being less accurate than the nasal test. Our studies to date show that to date our saliva test does not make this less accurate than other saliva-based tests.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I am an undergraduate student, what should I do if I miss a testing day? (Example: You forget to test. You went home for the weekend.)
If you forget a testing day, you should be tested as soon as possible. If you are going home for the weekend, and you have an in-person class on Monday or Tuesday, you should be tested on the Friday before you leave to go home, to ensure you have a negative test result in your file for when you return. You should try to shift back to your regular schedule as soon as you can, again never waiting more than four days in between tests.
I live in Chicago/Indianapolis/St. Louis/Springfield, and I am coming to campus once per week for class. What am I supposed to do to be in compliance with the COVID-19 testing requirements?
In order to be in compliance with the mandatory COVID-19 testing program required of all undergraduate students with on-campus classes, you must be testing on-campus twice per week. You must be tested on-campus two to four days before your scheduled class. You must also be tested on-campus on the day of your on-campus class.
My test results came back “invalid.” What does that mean?
Invalid results typically occur when non-optimal saliva samples are submitted. Before your next test, please be sure to refrain from eating, drinking, tooth brushing, mouth washing, or tobacco use for at least 1 hour prior to submitting your saliva sample. For best results, it is recommended to hydrate during the morning and get tested in the afternoon.
I am unable to take the saliva test for medical reasons, and/or have received multiple inconclusive results. What should I do?
Faculty and staff can apply through the ADA Division for the nasal alternative testing. Students who have an accommodation through the Disability Resources & Educational Services (DRES) office can reach out to DRES and request and receive permission to switch to the nasal test.
Students with less than five consecutive unsuccessful attempts at saliva collection may complete Student Nasal Testing Alternative Form in the MyMcKinley portal for consideration for participation in the Nasal Testing Program. Students with more than five consecutive unsuccessful attempts DO NOT need to complete this form, simply call 217-244-5661 to schedule your nasal testing appointment.
I live in University Housing. Will I be able to enter my residence hall if I miss one of my tests?
Yes. But that is the only building you will be able to enter until you have checked in at a testing site and until you have received a negative test result. If you have a current University Housing contract, you will always be able to enter your residence hall.
What if I miss class because I missed my scheduled test date?
This would be considered an absence and our regular academic policies and practices would apply. Your course syllabus will explain how absences are addressed. In addition to the possible academic penalties, failure to complete your required testing could also result in action through the student discipline process.
Why am I being asked for my race at the testing sites?
The Illinois Department of Public Health has requested we ask each person’s race who is tested on-campus. Providing this information is optional for each person who is tested.
Will the answers to my testing scheduling survey be used for research purposes?
When you receive your testing scheduling survey, you will also be asked if you will share your answers with a group of researchers working with the SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell team. Sharing your information confidentially will assist our study on COVID-19 risk, spread and management. If you do not wish to consent to participate in the research component, your survey response will be used only to set your testing schedule.
I am a graduate student living in Champaign, Urbana or Savoy. I take all online courses and work remotely. Do I still need to participate in the on-campus testing program?
Yes. All students living on-campus or residing in Champaign, Urbana, or Savoy will need to participate in the on-campus testing program, even if they are taking a fully online schedule.
I am a student taking all online courses and living outside of Champaign, Urbana and Savoy. Do I need to request an exemption from on-campus testing?
No, students living outside of Champaign, Urbana and Savoy who are taking all online courses do not need to fill out an exemption form. Please make sure your address information is updated in Self Service.
- On-Campus COVID-19 Testing Locations
- Safer Illinois app
- Building Access
- Testing Positive for COVID-19
- On-Campus Testing Data
- Working in university facilities
- SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell committee
On-Campus COVID-19 Testing Updates
- Massmail: COVID-19 Testing Schedule Changes + Faculty, Staff and Graduate Students do not test Tuesday
- Massmail: Increased undergraduate enforcement of COVID-19 safety guidelines
- Massmail: More flexible on-campus testing schedules
- New on-campus COVID-19 testing data dashboard available
- Massmail: Preparing for the first day of classes