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.
Spring 2021 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. Provided by Wild Health Laboratories of Lexington, Ky., testing hours will run 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and testing is free, fast and easy -- requiring less than 5 minutes to complete.
NOTE on entry to testing in the CRC: To participate in this testing, first go to the Stadium View Cafe at the north end of Nippert Stadium (right behind the large scoreboard). From the Stadium View Cafe locale, you will follow the signs directing you to testing in the CRC lower-level basketball courts.
Hamilton County Test and Protect will also come to campus on Wednesdays and Fridays. See more below. This TaP testing on campus is also an option to meet testing requirements.
And even though we have requirements around testing, voluntary participation in on-campus, mitigation testing will still be an option for students, faculty and staff.
Options for voluntary mitigation testing on campus include
- Participation in the Monday and Tuesday testing offered by Wild Health from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. in the basketball courts on the lower level of the CRC. Testing is by appointment only. Testing is free, fast and easy but available on a first-come basis.
- NOTE on entry: To participate in this testing, first go to the Stadium View Cafe at the north end of Nippert Stadium (right behind the large scoreboard). From the Stadium View Cafe locale, you will follow the signs directing you to testing in the CRC basketball courts.
Participation in 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:
- Walk-in testing on Wednesdays, from 1-5 p.m., in Stratford Heights Complex, Unit 16, 2634 Stratford Ave, Cincinnati OH 45220 (west side of Clifton Avenue). Note that while no advance registration is required for the Stratford location, advance registration is available via Test and Protect. Pre-registration via TaP does not provide a specific appointment slot but will save time in terms of on-site registration.
- Testing by appointment only 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.
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.
- 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 COVID Response Team to provide you additional information and next steps.
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. (Please allow up to 72 hours for processing of any exemption request.)
Exemptions from required mitigation 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.)
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 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.)
If fully vaccinated and no symptoms, quarantine will not be required 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.
- 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.
Mitigation testing will continue for students staying in University Housing over the summer and will be conducted at the University Health Services located at Commons Edge North, 57 W. Daniels Street. Students will be notified via their UC email when they are selected for required mitigation testing and will be able to make an online reservation for the test. Mitigation testing is free, fast and easy, requiring less than 5 minutes to complete.
For symptomatic students and those who have had close exposure to infected individuals, on-campus testing will also be available in the University Health Services Testing Center located at Commons Edge North, 57 W. Daniels Street. Students may call (513) 556-2564 for an appointment. The student’s health insurance plan will be billed for symptomatic and exposure testing.
If an employee’s exposure is at home or within the local community; or if an employee is symptomatic or would like to ascertain for personal reasons their COVID-19 status, employees should visit their personal healthcare provider or go to a community testing site, like those offered by Hamilton County Test and Protect.
If an employee is contacted by the UC COVID Response Team contact tracers that the employee has been identified as having had close exposure to an infected individual while at work, the employee may then be tested through UC Health Associate Health and Wellness. Or, the employee may be tested by a personal healthcare provider or a community testing site.
UC Health can also provide testing to all dually-compensated (by UC Health and UC) faculty and staff or other patient-facing UC employees who are symptomatic or exposed regardless of exposure locale.
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
- Currently, the student’s health insurance plan will be billed for symptomatic and exposure testing performed in the UHS Testing Center.
- There is no cost for testing for those students selected for/participating in the mitigation testing program carried out by Wild Health Laboratories. These tests currently take place Mondays and Tuesdays in the basketball courts (lower level) of the CRC.
- Students opting to receive testing by Hamilton County Test and Protect will be asked for insurance information; however, if a student's insurance does not cover the test, there will be no charge to the student.
If you are not able to participate in one of the testing events offered through the university, you may submit a test result from another provider.
Please note that it must be a PCR test (rather than an antigen test) and it must be taken within 7 days of your requirement to test. Moreover, any costs associated with opting for off-site testing is the responsibility of the student.
You are strongly encouraged to participate in UC testing. Testing at UC helps to assure a more seamless completion of your requirement. Going through testing at an alternative, off-campus site may result in a delay, as external testing must be manually processed once submitted to University Health Services.
- Off-site test results should be emailed to email@example.com (Please note that if you participate in the Hamilton County Test and Protect testing offered on UC's campus every Wednesday and Friday as listed on the UC testing page, you will not need to submit those to this email address.)
- Please use ‘Exemption’ in the subject line and attach your test results.
- Please be sure to include your full name, date of birth and M number.
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 BinaxNOW 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 BinaxNOW comes back with a negative result for COVID, then a PCR test is performed.
The BinaxNOW provides test results within 15 minutes and can be used with anyone with symptoms. Anyone with a negative antigen test must have a PCR test to confirm the result. Those without symptoms will have a PCR test. PCR test results are available within 72 hours.
Testing results for those participating in mitigation testing are generally available within 48-72 hours of the test.
Anyone with a pending test should be even more careful than usual to avoid exposing someone else to possible viral transmission. If you have symptoms, you will be transferred to isolation accommodations while awaiting the confirmatory PCR test results. As always, a negative test does not protect you from acquiring the virus, and the same key preventative measure of social distancing, facial coverings, hand hygiene and surface sanitizing, and staying home when sick must be followed.
In accordance with the Faculty Senate Resolution on Class Attendance and Participation during COVID-19, faculty are encouraged to be flexible with attendance policies and other aspects of supporting academic progress – particularly for students in isolation and quarantine.
Faculty are encouraged to think beyond traditional definitions of attendance and support and provide students with opportunities to make up missed work or do commensurate work. This will allow for a positive student learning experience and a commitment to delivering exemplary instruction. An incomplete grade may be awarded in the event of a student illness, which will provide an opportunity for a student to work with faculty to complete coursework after the semester concludes.