Mitigation & Symptomatic Testing

The university will continue to refine and update testing efforts as needed as they are a critical component of a safe and healthy campus community. Testing programs are carried out across campus to help the university monitor and address real-time trends and prevalence and make timely decisions on potential intervention and response. 

Any and all practices and policies delineated here at this time are subject to revision and updates.

Strategic Mitigation Testing (no symptoms)

Since Spring Term 2020, the university has used a combination of both required and voluntary strategic mitigation testing (defined as testing that is not related to symptoms or suspected exposure) among students in order to help monitor trends and prevalence related to COVID-19 and to promote good health habits. 

 COVID-19 rates are high in Hamilton County and Ohio, and the public health emergency continues. As such, our medical experts have recommended we continue required mitigation testing to ensure we have continued participation in our campus screening test program.  

Testing is a key strategy in combination with all-important behavioral measures of social distancing, facial coverings, hand and surface hygiene and staying home when sick. Testing paired with good health habits is an easy, quick and incredibly consequential way to make sure we're each doing our part to keep our community safer and healthier. It’s one way that all of us help to protect each of us.

Required Testing: Selection and Notification

During Spring Semester 2021, students will receive notice when they have been selected to participate in ongoing, twice-weekly mitigation testing. Participation in such testing will be required of students who fall into the following categories unless they meet the needed qualifications for a testing exemption. 

  • Residential students living in UC Housing
  • Students attending face-to-face classes or hybrid classes on the Uptown Campus 
  • Students who work or conduct research on campus; or who come to campus for other activities  

Uptown Campus ongoing mitigation testing will take place Mondays and Tuesdays (starting Monday, January 25, and Tuesday, January 26) in the basketball courts on the lower level of the Campus Recreation Center. Testing hours will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and testing is free, fast and easy -- requiring less than 5 minutes to complete. 

Voluntary Testing

And even though we have requirements around testing, voluntary participation in testing will still be an option for students, faculty and staff on campus via mitigaton testing in the CRC as well as on-campus testing options provided by Hamilton County Test and Protect. Hamilton County Test and Protect will offer testing each week, starting the week of January 25, as follows:

  • On Wednesdays, from 1-5 p.m., in Stratford Heights Complex, Unit 16, 2634 Stratford Ave, Cincinnati OH 45220 (west side of Clifton Avenue).
  • On Fridays from 1-4 p.m., in UC Health's Addiction Sciences Division building (2nd floor, adjacent to Suite 201), 3131 Harvey Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229
Please note that Test and Protect will request insurance information; however, if a student's insurance does not cover the test, there will be no charge to the student.
 
Symptomatic and Exposure Testing

And, testing for those exhibiting symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the virus will still be available through University Health Services. Call 513-556-2564 to make an appointment.

Testing Process

  • Students selected for required testing during the spring term will be notified via their university email, along with instructions for next steps, such as how to schedule their 5-minute COVID-19 test. Remember, the test is fast, free and easy. 
  • For students opting to fulfill the routine spring term testing requirement on campus, mitigation  testing will be provided twice a week at the basketball courts of the Campus Recreation Center.
  • Please expect to social distance and wear a mask during testing, except while the test is actually being performed. 
  • Testing results are generally available within 48-72 hours of the test.
  • If your COVID test is negative, your COVID Check App will turn to a "Green Pass," and you will receive notification at your UC email regarding your negative test result.
  • If your COVID test is positive, your COVID Check App will immediately turn to a "Red Pass" as results return from Wild Health Laboratories. You will subsequently be personally contacted by a member of UC’s health care response team to provide you additional information and next steps.

Exemptions

Unless a student receives an exemption from required spring term mitigation testing, failure to ultimately respond and obtain a test will result that student receiving a ‘red pass’ on their UC COVID Check App and a directive to quarantine. 

Exemptions from required strategic surveillance testing may be granted based on the following: 

  •  A student is currently in quarantine or isolation. 
  • They have a disability that would preclude them from having the test done.  
  • They are currently sick and unable to get to the testing facility.  
  • They have a sincerely held religious belief. 
  • They are under the age of 18. (Residents of University Housing under age 18 on the day of the test must call University Health Services at (513) 556-2564 to schedule a COVID-19 test with permission from a legal guardian.)
  • They have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days. (Only positive PCR or antigen tests will qualify for an exemption. Antibody test results will not be accepted.)

 The exemption form can be accessed via the University Health Services home page. 

COVID-19 vaccine recipients 

The infectious disease experts in UC’s Academic Health Center recommend that students who have received a COVID-19 vaccine still participate in required testing. Thus, COVID-19 vaccination status cannot serve to exempt students from required testing. This is due to the following:

  • Vaccine efficacy was studied for prevention of disease only, not infection or viral transmission after infection.
  • Thus, It is still an unknown as to whether a vaccinated individual can still be infected and asymptomatic, and if so, be infectious.
  • There here is no cross-reactivity between vaccine and a PCR test, i.e. being vaccinated cannot lead to a false positive COVID-19 test by PCR. (It can by some antibody tests.)

The university will continue to require quarantine of vaccinated individuals after exposure.

As more research and studies regarding vaccination and post-vaccination infection are addressed, the Academic Health Center infectious disease may revisit this recommendation.

Non-compliance with required testing 

Consequences for failing to participate in required mitigation testing throughout spring term will follow a step-ladder approach. 

 If a student does not participate in their initial testing appointment and/or reschedule their assigned testing date within their assigned testing window and/or receive a testing exemption, they will be contacted to reschedule for the following week. In the interim awaiting the rescheduled test, the student will receive a ‘yellow pass’ on their UC COVID Check App.  

Yellow Pass

  • All students began Spring Semester with a UC COVID Check App “Yellow Pass.”  On January 5 when the COVID Check App status of all UC students  turned "Yellow," it signified limited access to campus facilities until students complete (and receive results from) the free, fast Return to Campus COVID-19 testing to be offered on campus thru Jan. 24.
  •  The "Yellow Pass" precludes students with a UC meal plan from using the traditional dining halls. Meal plan students with a "Yellow Pass" are required to use food service carry-out options on campus.
  • Students retaining a "Yellow Pass" for failing to comply with testing requirements or to receive an exemption to required testing will also be unable to physically access libraries, Tangeman University Center or Campus Recreation Center spaces (though online access to both will remain). 
  • The same is true for in-person classes, work, research or other activities on campus. Any student retaining a "Yellow Pass" for failing to comply with testing requirements or to receive an exemption to required testing will be unable to participate in in-person classes, on-campus work, research or other activities until resolving and fulfilling the testing requirement or receiving an exemption to testing. 
  • Finally, students will a "Yellow Pass" may not have guests in their UC Housing rooms or apartments. 

If a student then fails to either show up for their second scheduled testing appointment and/or respond to a request to reschedule their initial appointment within two business days, they will receive a UC COVID Check App "Red Pass" and a directive to quarantine until testing can be completed. 

Testing for symptomatic or exposed students

For symptomatic students and those who have had close exposure to infected individuals, one on-campus testing option is the University Health Services Testing Center located at Commons Edge North, 57 W. Daniels Street. Students may call (513) 556-2564 for an appointment.

Also for symptomatic students and those who have had close exposure to infected individuals, University Health Services can arrange for testing at the UC Health Uptown Campus, 3120 Burnet Avenue (East Campus), which is by appointment only.

The student’s health insurance plan will be billed for symptomatic and exposure testing.

Testing FAQ

It's important to stress here that testing capacity is essentially elastic now that we've seen improvements in the national availability of testing materials.

In the Return to Campus testing period, the university may conduct mitigation testing of about 14,000 campus community members. In Spring Term 2021, we will conduct mitigating testing of approximately 2,400 campus community members each week.

However, we can  quickly expand such capacity if and as needed now that we've seen improvements in the national availability of testing materials.

Testing for those exhibiting symptoms that may be related to COVID-19 or who may have been exposed to the virus is available at UC’s Testing Center at Commons Edge North, 57 W. Daniels Street. It is by appointment only by calling UHS at 513-556-2564.

University Health Services can also arrange for testing at the UC Health Uptown Campus, 3120 Burnet Avenue (East Campus), which is by appointment only.

Mitigation testing, both voluntary and required, is offered four days a week on UC's campus.

Wild Health Laboratory of Lexington, Kentucky, is conducting mitigation testing on campus. In spring term 2021, this testing will take place twice weekly (Mondays and Tuesdays) at the basketball courts in the Campus Recreation Center. It is free, fast and easy.

Hamilton County Test and Protect is offering testing each week, starting the week of January 25, as follows:

  • On Wednesdays, from 1-5 p.m., in Stratford Heights Complex, Unit 16, 2634 Stratford Ave, Cincinnati OH 45220 (west side of Clifton Avenue).
  • On Fridays from 1-4 p.m., in UC Health's Addiction Sciences Division building (2nd floor, adjacent to Suite 201), 3131 Harvey Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45229
Please note that Test and Protect will request insurance information; however, if a student's insurance does not cover the test, there will be no charge to the student (nor to any other member of the campus community).

UC is using the highly sensitive viral test known as a PCR. PCR testing is considered the gold standard in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even among those who have no symptoms.  

In addition, at the Testing Center, UC uses the Abbott BirnaxNOW antigen test, which provides test results within 15 minutes, and is used with anyone with symptoms. (Those without symptoms will have a PCR test.) If the Abbott BirnaxNOW comes back with a negative result for COVID (and if the student is also negative for flu, strep or mono), then a PCR test is performed.