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COVID-19 weekly update #2 for undergraduates

January 13, 2021

This message covers

  • Safer Badgers apps and website
  • COVID-19 testing
  • Assistance phone line
  • Reminders: travel safety, loaner devices, exposure notifications

As the spring semester nears, UW–Madison is providing weekly updates to prepare the campus community for expanded testing requirements. These additional measures are intended to curb the spread of COVID-19 while nationwide vaccination efforts continue. The new requirements take effect Jan. 25; however, you will need to take several steps to be ready for them. Full details can be found on the COVID-19 Response website.

Safer Badgers apps and website

You’ll need the Safer Badgers technology to manage your testing appointments, track your test results and gain access to campus spaces.

  • There are three ways to make appointments and gain building access through Safer Badgers:
    • The iOS version of the app is now available for free through the Apple App Store.
    • UW–Madison is awaiting approval from Google for the Android app. In the meantime, Android users can download the latest beta version of the app on the COVID-19 Response website.
    • A web version of the app is coming but will not be available by the start of the semester. The campus community will be notified when this option is available.
  • Need a device to use Safer Badgers? A campus loan program provides limited-use devices with the Safer Badgers app to those who need them. Learn more.
  • If you are experiencing technology issues, please contact the DoIT Helpdesk.

COVID-19 Testing
To those who have already tested at one of the new sites, thank you. The saliva-based tests and the Safer Badgers app are new to our campus. This week we are testing out the system and have learned a number of ways to improve. We expect the process to get faster and easier over time. We greatly appreciate your patience.

  • Required testing: Any student coming to campus for any reason during the spring semester will need to have been tested. Regular testing also will be required for any students living in the Madison area, even those not planning to come to campus. See complete details here. Schedule your first testing appointment now. Appointments can be scheduled up to seven days in advance.
  • Testing sites open: Seven of the 12 new campus testing sites are now open. All 12 are expected to be operational by Jan. 19. Check here for locations, hours, accessibility information and parking availability. These sites offer saliva-based testing and results within 24 hours. (University Housing will also perform nasal swab testing at Ogg Hall and Frank Holt Center for those who live in residence halls.)
  • How to ensure a valid test: Learn how to prepare for and provide a saliva sample at a testing site on this webpage. Make sure you are well-hydrated before you arrive. However, you cannot have had anything to eat or drink, nor brushed or flossed your teeth, used mouthwash, chewed gum or smoked in the hour prior to arriving for your test.Doing any of these things may result in an invalid or rejected test. An hour before testing, it’s a good idea to also rinse your mouth with water to remove any food particles or residue from mouthwash or toothpaste.
  • Accessibility Information: UW–Madison is working with the vendor to continuously improve the Safer Badgers app. For accessibility and usability information, see Safer Badgers App ­­– Accessibility Information.
  • We continue to take rigorous public health precautions at test sites, including physical distancing and requiring masks to be worn at all times except during the brief period when a saliva sample is being collected.

Assistance phone line

 The UW–Madison COVID-19 Assistance Line is now available to answer questions at (608) 262-7777. The line is staffed Mondays through Fridays from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sundays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


  • Travel safety: If you’re traveling back to Madison, test before you travel if possible, limit your out-of-home activities as much as you can for 10 days before you travel, and postpone your travel if you test positive or have symptoms of COVID-19. Learn more.
  • Plan ahead: Before the start of classes on Jan. 25, you must already have begun your testing regimen and tested negative at a campus testing site.
  • Exposure notification: Safer Badgers app provides anonymous, secure notifications to anyone who has been exposed to another participating app user who has tested positive for COVID-19. Participation is optional but strongly encouraged. Learn more.

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