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.

If you have any questions about testing and test results, please send them to covidwellness@illinois.edu or call 217-333-1900.

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Who should test and how often

All university COVID-19 testing requirements are still in place, except for those who are fully vaccinated (defined as 14 days after final dose) with a university-verified Vaccination Record Card. All faculty, staff and students will continue to have access to the on-campus COVID-19 testing program. The university encourages you to use access to this testing as an extra layer of protection.

If you are contacted by the university because you are in an area with significant increases in positive cases (more than one case in the last three days OR three or more cases in the last seven days), everyone in that location (vaccinated and unvaccinated) will be required to test every other day for a period of time until cases improve.

Testing requirements for unvaccinated individuals

The following requirements also apply to those who are not fully vaccinated (defined as 14 days after final dose) and/or those without a university-verified Vaccination Record Card. Testing frequencies have been chosen based on SHIELD team modeling and data with the goal to to maximize the safety of our community.

Updated testing frequencies beginning Oct. 16

  • If you are not fully vaccinated and you have an approved medical or religious vaccination exemption: you are required to test and receive negative results every other day.
  • If you are not fully vaccinated with a university-verified record and you do not have an approved medical or religious vaccination exemption: you are required to test and receive negative results every other day until you are fully vaccinated.
    • Employees who are required to test are not required to test on their non-work days or on remote days, if working a hybrid remote schedule.
    • Employees working at remote, off-site university facilities should follow the established testing frequencies at their location.

You can visit any of the on-campus COVID-19 testing locations to participate in the testing program. The Safer Illinois app will tell you when you are due for your next test.

Testing recommendations for fully vaccinated individuals

  • “Fully vaccinated” is defined as 14 days after your final dose.
  • If you are identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 (by the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, the university or by the individual themselves) and you are fully vaccinated, you should test 3-5 days after exposure if you do not experience symptoms.
  • If you do experience symptoms, you should quarantine and test immediately. Recent data shows the Delta variant viral load may continue to be high for several days after onset of symptoms. By quarantining and testing immediately, you help protect those around you and prevent many more potential infections from occurring.
  • You should also take an on-campus COVID-19 test if you:
    • Experience COVID-19-like symptoms such as: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea or vomiting, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, muscle or body aches or diarrhea
    • Return from travel
  • If you are contacted by the university because you are in an area with significant increases in positive cases (more than one case in the last three days OR three or more cases in the last seven days), everyone in that location (vaccinated and unvaccinated) will be required to test every other day for a period of time until cases improve.

Getting Tested

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.

Eligibility

The test is available to current students, faculty, staff and retirees at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who have active NetIDs. 

Community members, family members and visitors can test through SHIELD CU. Please visit the SHIELD CU website for more information, including testing locations and hours.

Cost

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.

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.

Test Results

Getting your results

Typical test results are expected within 12 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. Results will also be available on the Safer Illinois app. (To receive your results in the Safer Illinois app, make sure the “Health Provider Test Results” is toggled on in the app settings.) 

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.

You can print your full COVID-19 test results in the MyMcKinley portal. Click the “Labs” tab in the menu and select your test result to print an official copy.

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 covidwellness@illinois.edu or call 217-333-1900.



On-campus testing locations

The university has a number of on-campus testing locations spread out across campus. Visit the On-Campus Testing Locations page to see the locations and hours.

On-campus testing accommodations

Students unable to wait in line due to the increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 based on the CDC guidelines for individuals who are at a higher risk of severe complications or students unable to utilize the walk-up facilities with accommodations are eligible to utilize the COVID-19 Drive-up/Curbside Testing Request at Campus Recreation Center East by requesting this alternate method through DRES. This accommodation is limited and only available between 9am-11am at Campus Recreation Center East. Drive-up/curbside testing requests must be submitted to DRES and ID and name checks for approval will take place at the drive-up testing location.

Nasal testing alternative request 

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.

If you need a short term accommodation while your request is being processed, call 217-244-5661 to schedule your nasal testing appointment.

Off-campus tests

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.

View the On-Campus Testing Data.

The University of Illinois saliva test

Our on-campus testing sites administer a saliva-based test, 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 University of Illinois System received emergency use authorization (EUA) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the innovative saliva-based COVID-19 test.

The lab processing the samples is certified under the federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA) to perform high complexity testing. 

Background

Our test asks individuals to provide a saliva sample because research tells us that saliva is the primary way COVID-19 is spread. More information about the research related to this test method is available.

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is performing its new rapid, saliva-based COVID-19 test on all students, faculty and staff.

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. 

Compared to other saliva tests, our saliva test skips RNA isolation (a cumbersome process), which allows quicker results.

Our studies to date show that our saliva-based test provides results that are comparable to other COVID-19 viral test methods.


Frequently Asked Questions

On-Campus Testing Program

If I am a student required to participate in the On-Campus Testing Program, what should I do if I miss a testing day? (Example: You forget to test. You were unable to test. You needed to be out of town for a period of time.)

If you forget a testing day, you should be tested as soon as possible.

If you will be away from campus for less than a week, test the day before you leave. Then, if you receive a noncompliance email from the Office for Student Conflict Resolution, please indicate the reason for missing a test. If you will be away from campus for more than a week, update your Student Location address in Student Self-Service. Remember to update this address again when you return to campus. You should resume testing as soon as you return.

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.

I am a student taking all online courses. Do I need to request an exemption from on-campus testing?

No, students 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.

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.

I am a professional student. How frequently should I be testing?

For testing purposes, professional students are included as graduate students. For more information, see details about who should test.

The Saliva Test

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.

Does the saliva test detect new variants of COVID-19?

Yes. The saliva test developed by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign detects the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, including new variants that have been identified to date.

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.

If you need a short term accommodation while your request is being processed, call 217-244-5661 to schedule your nasal testing appointment.

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.

How can I print an official copy of my COVID-19 test results?

Go to your MyMcKinley portal. Click the “Labs” tab in the menu and select your test result to print an official copy.

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.


Additional Resources


On-Campus COVID-19 Testing Updates