On-campus testing switching to drop-in only
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This message covers:
- Important updates about campus testing. Effective Sunday, Jan. 24, campus testing will transition to drop-in only.
- A reminder: While Badger Wellness Ambassadors will begin working across campus on Jan. 25, enforcement of the building access restrictions based on your Badger Badge will not begin until Feb. 1 (Update: enforcement begins Feb. 8.)
In response to feedback from our campus community and our COVID-19 test site staff, we have made the decision to convert our 14 campus testing locations to drop-in testing only. This means you will no longer need an appointment to get your test. At this time, nasal swab testing sites are open only to residence hall students and individuals with medical accommodations.
This change will go into effect beginning on Sunday, Jan. 24. Rather than use the Safer Badgers app to make an appointment at a specific time, you will now use it on the day you wish to test to identify sites with little to no wait times. This provides more flexibility in choosing the time and place that best suit your needs.
The following are key steps you should take to help you make this change.
- Update your Safer Badgers app any time after Saturday evening at 8 p.m. CT to see this change reflected.
- Watch for an app notification on Sunday morning at 8 a.m. CT reminding you to update the app. All app users who have enabled notifications will receive this message.
- If you have not yet downloaded the Safer Badgers app, visit saferbadgers.wisc.edu for instructions.
- If you already have an appointment scheduled for some time on or after Sunday, Jan. 24, your appointment will no longer appear in your app. You may visit your preferred site at that time or drop in for your test at a different time or location, whichever you prefer. Please be aware that most wait times on Sunday, Jan. 24, will appear red to accommodate people who had appointments.
After you update the app, you will see wait time indicators listed under each test site location.
- A green symbol (short wait time) means your wait time should be 15 minutes or less.
- A yellow symbol (medium wait time) means a bit of a wait and your wait time is estimated to take 15 to 30 minutes.
- A red symbol (long wait time) means you should expect to wait 30 minutes or longer to get tested at that site.
- A grey symbol indicates the site is not open. This symbol will appear when the site is closed during the day.
- Wait times will be refreshed frequently by staff at each test site
The transition to drop-in testing provides students and employees the flexibility to access testing on their schedule, at the locations and times they prefer.
We know this new testing approach has taken some time to get used to and we appreciate your patience as we make this transition. We will continue to make improvements and respond to your feedback. Please do be patient with test site staff who are also working hard during this process.
Participation in on-campus testing is required to maintain access to campus buildings using your Badger Badge. However:
- While Badger Wellness Ambassadors will begin working across campus on Jan. 25, enforcement of the building access restrictions based on your Badger Badge status will not begin until Feb. 1.
- You have all of next week to begin getting used to showing your Badger Badge to Badger Wellness Ambassadors monitoring building access.
Here are answers to some of the questions you may have:
Why did campus make this change?
We have heard your feedback and are taking steps to address your concerns. Some sites have experienced delays and lines as we have implemented the new saliva-based testing approach on campus. Grouping people into four start times per hour caused unneeded wait times, as did the differences in how quickly people have been able to produce a sample. As we increase capacity, and as more people gain experience submitting saliva samples, we expect these lines to diminish, but this change now should help improve the process for everyone.
You can use the Safer Badgers app to check wait times at testing sites. If you get to a site and find there is a line, you are free to visit a different site with a shorter wait time or return at a later time.
It should also make it easier for you to submit another sample that same day if yours is rejected at the test site or by the lab or if you have difficulty producing enough saliva in that moment. For more tips on submitting a good saliva sample, visit: https://news.wisc.edu/tips-for-avoiding-a-rejected-covid-19-saliva-test/
Once people are better accustomed to the new testing approach, we expect the entire process to take no more than three to five minutes. This is based on the experience at the University of Illinois Urban-Champaign, which developed the testing approach adopted by UW–Madison for the spring semester. Testing at the University of Illinois is also drop-in.
What happens if I get to a site and it’s busy?
You are free to find another test site with a shorter wait or to return to your preferred test site at a later time. Or you may choose to wait at that location. The decision is yours.
Test site staff will regularly refresh wait times in the Safer Badgers app. A green symbol (short wait time) means your wait time at that test site should take 15 minutes or less, a yellow symbol (medium wait time) means an expected wait time of 15 to 30 minutes, and a red symbol (long wait time) means you could wait 30 minutes or longer to get tested at that site. A grey symbol indicates the site is not open.
The length of a line at any given test site will mean different things at different sites. A short line at a smaller site might move more slowly than a longer line at a larger site. Please use your Safer Badgers app for the best estimate.
How can I make sure I can get tested at the time I am available?
We know some employees and students may desire consistency in the timing of their tests and this is still possible without an appointment-based system. You can use the Safer Badgers app to check wait times and visit the test site location that works best for your schedule.
There are 12 saliva-based test sites on campus. To find each location and get information about hours, parking and accessibility, visit https://covidresponse.wisc.edu/testing/#locations. Hours are also available in the Safer Badgers app.
How does this change affect nasal swab testing?
At this time, nasal swab testing sites are open only to residence hall students and individuals with medical accommodations. These test sites will also be drop-in only beginning Jan. 25. Eligible individuals can still visit these sites during open hours to get tested, or access testing at one of the saliva-based sites.
Why can’t you have some sites remain by appointment?
In order to ensure consistency for everyone on campus, we have chosen to make all sites drop-in only. You are welcome to set your own schedule and visit open sites at your convenience.
For more information about campus testing, Safer Badgers and spring semester, visit: https://covidresponse.wisc.edu/.
An extensive and regularly updated list of searchable FAQs can be found here: https://covidresponse.wisc.edu/faq/
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the COVID Assistance Line at 608-262-7777 with any other questions. That line is staffed Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.