Frequently Asked Questions
Screen, Test & Protect

General

How are we using our COVID testing capabilities to bring faculty, staff and students back to campus?

Our goal is to screen more than 20,000 faculty, staff and students by July 1. When running at full capacity, UF Health Screen, Test & Protect can test more than 1,000 people per day at the various testing sites. It is important to remember there are a number of factors outside of our control that may impact the number of people tested per day or per week. UF will continue to send updated communications regarding the phased return as this plan evolves. 

Online Screening

What is the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect program?

As the University of Florida works to restore full campus operations, all faculty, staff and students are required to complete an online screening questionnaire to determine if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They also will be asked if they have had close contact with someone who has symptoms or who has been diagnosed with the infection.

Because some people can be infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms, nasal swab testing for COVID-19 is strongly encouraged through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect for all faculty, staff and students to determine whether they are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This testing is offered at no cost to you. After the screening questionnaire is completed, information will be provided about how to make an appointment for testing.

All students who remained on campus to live or work during the campus closure are also required to complete the online screening and many will be strongly encouraged to undergo testing. Students working in certain high-risk environments (e.g., clinical settings) or returning from “hotspots” (as defined by our UF Health professionals in conjunction with CDC guidance) may be required to undergo testing.

When does screening start for all employees?

Screening and testing began for some UF administrators and staff on Wednesday, May 6. You will be notified by your work unit or supervisor if you are part of the group ready for online screening and/or when your department will begin screening. For more information on the process, please see the UF Human Resources website.

Can I opt out of the screening process?

No. Doctor’s notes will not be accepted as alternatives to completing the online screening questionnaire. While testing for coronavirus is optional, it is strongly encouraged for all.

Who will be screened and tested for COVID-19?

As the University of Florida works to restore full campus operations, all faculty and staff are required to complete an online screening questionnaire to determine if they have symptoms of COVID-19. They also will be asked if they have had close contact with someone who has symptoms or who has been diagnosed with the infection.

Students are also required to participate in online screening to return to or continue living on campus.

Because some people can be infected with COVID-19 and have no symptoms, nasal swab testing for COVID-19 is strongly encouraged through UF Health Screen, Test & Protect for all faculty, staff and students to determine whether they are currently infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This testing is offered at no cost to you. After the screening questionnaire is completed, information will be provided about how to make an appointment for testing.

All students who remained on campus to live or work during the campus closure are also required to complete the online screening and are strongly encouraged to undergo testing.

The test looks for the presence of the coronavirus and helps determine who can spread it. By testing as many people as possible, we hope to minimize the risk of infection on the UF campus and in the community. 

Who do I call with questions about screening and testing?

If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor or departmental HR representative, or call UF Health Screen, Test & Protect at 352-273-9790.

What happens if my screening questionnaire says I should be tested?

If your answers to the screening questionnaire suggest your results require additional assessment for COVID-19, a one-time nasal swab test is strongly encouraged before returning to work. This testing is offered at no cost to you. A representative of UF Occupational Health will contact you to schedule a telehealth appointment to evaluate the need for a medical assessment, including potential testing, and to discuss the process you need to follow before returning to your UF work location. You must isolate at home, away from others, until told by a medical professional from UF Health Screen, Test & Protect that you can come out of isolation. Please also notify your personal physician.

People at high risk of infection include those who have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19, have symptoms consistent with a COVID-19 infection, or a history of travel within the past 14 days to or from an area known to have high levels of transmission.

Getting Tested for COVID-19

Is testing mandatory for everyone to come to UF campus?

No, but testing is strongly encouraged as part of the larger screening, testing and tracing program for faculty, staff and students, including those currently living and working on campus to return or continue to be on campus. If your answers to the screening questionnaire suggest your results require additional assessment for COVID-19, a one-time nasal swab test is strongly encouraged before returning to work. This testing is offered at no cost to you.

Where is testing being offered?

In Gainesville: The UF Cultural Plaza parking garage, located at Southwest 34th Street and Hull Road

What are the estimated wait times at the testing sites? What do I need to bring?

The appointment should last between 5 and 10 minutes. This timing is based on our experience testing thousands of individuals at various walk-up and drive-thru screenings we have conducted throughout North Central Florida. 

Bring your Gator 1 ID card and, if you have one, your insurance card. Individuals will NOT be personally responsible for any payment amounts that are not covered by third party payors, including, but not limited to, non-covered or out-of-network services, deductibles, co-insurance and/or co-payments.

How is the test performed and when will the results be received?

The test is performed using a nasal swab, similar to a flu test. The sample is then sent to a lab to determine whether the virus is present. Results will be available within about two days, with few exceptions. Employees will receive information about their results directly from UF Health either via an email or phone call.

I was tested for COVID-19 and my initial test says negative. Am I “safe” from now on?

The answer is not that simple. The nasal swab test only detects whether you can infect others at the time the test was taken. If your test is negative, you are not contagious at the time of the test, but you can be infected at a later date, and if infected, can spread the infection to your co-workers or the community.  

Because testing tells us if you can infect others at the time of the testing, UF has established a variety of other measures to reduce the risk of infection on campus. Everyone in campus buildings (and in crowded areas outdoors) must wear a face mask or cloth face covering in public areas, must maintain physical distancing between themselves and others, and must follow hygiene protocols such as frequent handwashing.

Employees who feel ill should let their supervisor know and should not come to work and should receive recommended testing and treatment as needed.

Would I ever need to be retested?

It is possible UF Health Screen, Test & Protect will encourage testing for faculty, staff and students again at a later date. There are certain circumstances where retesting would be recommended for you:

  • Anyone with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19 should leave campus and arrange for testing through UF Health.
  • Anyone who is told they have come in contact with an infected person and that infection is likely will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days, and testing will be made available and is recommended.

Do I get a certificate or documentation that I was tested and was negative to share?

Yes. It will be available in MyUFHealth (UFHealth.org/myUFHealth) or through a health records request from UF Health. Your college or work unit will be notified by UF Human Resources when you are cleared for work.

What happens if I test positive?

If faculty, staff or students test positive, they will be contacted by UF Health. If your results are positive and you have been working remotely, you will need to continue working remotely and contact your personal health care provider for further instructions. If you have been working at a UF work location and test positive, you will need to stay home and must contact your personal health care provider. In either case, please do not return to work until you have met the requirements of the quarantine and return to work protocols provided by HR and/or your supervisor.

If you are a student and test positive, you will also receive a follow-up from Student Affairs to help support your specific questions and needs.

You will receive a copy of your test result and will be responsible for communicating the result to your personal health care provider and for arranging any clinical follow-up care that might be indicated by the testing result. UF’s return-to-workplace initiative and UF Health Screen, Test & Protect are not responsible for the subsequent clinical care of individuals tested by the program, including the clinical care of individuals who may be found to have a positive test for COVID-19.

What will happen if faculty, staff or students refuse to provide a list of contacts if they test positive?

It is important to remember that tracing of contacts is a critical public health activity done under the authority of the Florida Department of Health. If someone tests positive for COVID-19, certain steps will be required, consistent with local and state laws and determined by public health authorities. 

Who has access to test results? How are you protecting that information?

Access to an individual’s test results will be held to the same standard as other protected health information and will be stored in EPIC, the HIPAA-compliant electronic medical record at UF Health. Access to an individual’s test sample and results will be held in a confidential manner by UF Health in a secure database and/or by the state of Florida Department of Health.

If a person tests positive, how will UF inform co-workers of an employee who is diagnosed with COVID-19?

UF Health may communicate test results to the University of Florida for use in the university’s return-to-workplace initiative. Employees will receive test results by email or via phone. No personal health information will be released to HR. HR will also receive a notification from the UF Health Screen, Test & Protect team indicating if an employee is cleared to return to work.

UF Health may also follow up on positive COVID-19 test results using standard public health contact tracing procedures, as part of public health efforts in coordination with the Department of Health to prevent and control the further dissemination of COVID-19 infection. UF Health will disclose testing results to public health oversight agencies, as well as other regulatory entities, as may be duly authorized or required by applicable state or federal law, statutes or regulations. Disclosures of information by UF Health will apply only to the data obtained as part of this testing program and will not include disclosures of any other existing or future personal health information.

The UF Health Screen, Test & Protect team will work to confidentially inform individuals who have been in contact with the person with COVID. The name of the person who tested positive, and who others were in contact with, will not be shared publicly. The person who tests positive will be asked for as many contacts as possible. Given the nature of close contacts, anonymity is not always possible. This process is in keeping with standard public health practices. 

Does this test have an out-of-pocket fee? Will it cost me money?

Individuals will NOT be personally responsible for any payment amounts that are not covered by third party payors, including, but not limited to, non-covered or out-of-network services, deductibles, co-insurance and/or co-payments.

UF Health will submit claims to obtain payment for charges incurred as part of testing from third party payors or their agents (including, but not limited to, Medicare, Medicaid, Tri-care or governmental programs; health insurance; workers’ compensation payors, agents or administrators; HMOs; self-insured employers; and any sponsors who may contribute payment for medical services). UF Health will also request payment of authorized Medicare benefits due to individuals for any services furnished by UF Health on behalf of the return-to-workplace initiative. Individual participation in COVID-19 testing will constitute assignment to UF Health of payment from Medicare, Medicaid and all third-party payors who may provide coverage or benefits for the charges related to, or connected with, testing in the return to workplace initiative. 

What if I do not have insurance? 

See question above.

Will I only get tested once or will I need to get tested again at a later date?

We plan to test faculty, staff and students once. However, for those whose test returns positive, UF Health will follow up using standard public health contact tracing procedures and require further testing, as part of public health efforts to prevent and control the further dissemination of COVID-19 infection

Is this antibody testing?

This is not an antibody test. Antibody testing for SARS-v2-COV is new and thus its contribution to COVID-19 testing is still undergoing evaluation. In the future, antibody testing may be used to identify those who have had a COVID-19 infection in the past. However, currently these tests do not provide information as to whether these antibodies can protect you from reinfection with the virus. The test can also be used to identify donors of plasma (a blood product where antibodies are in high concentration) that will be given to very sick patients with COVID-19. In time, research should help us determine what role, if any, antibody testing might play in our response to COVID-19.

Is this test approved by the CDC?

Yes, the testing is the same as the COVID-19 test you would receive at your doctor’s office or the hospital.

Is this test part of a research study?

No, this is not a research study.

Campus Safety Measures

What measures are in place to protect campus faculty and staff upon reopening?

Physical Distancing:

Students, faculty, staff and visitors must maintain a physical distance of 6 feet from others while on the University of Florida properties and in common spaces until further notice. Per the CDC, limiting face-to-face contact with others is the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additionally, any gatherings with more than 10 people are prohibited at this time.

Face Coverings:

As part of an ongoing effort to keep the campus safe and in parallel with UF Health, the university is requiring all students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear face masks or cloth face coverings in indoor public spaces on the University of Florida properties. Face coverings are mandatory as of Wednesday, May 13, 2020 for those in all UF buildings and facilities. 

In addition to testing, will UF require temperature checks on all UF faculty, staff, students and the general public before they are allowed in buildings?

No, we are not recommending temperature and symptom screening for UF building entry. Temperature screening and screening for symptoms are of some value in certain settings (i.e., hospitals and clinics, as was done at UF Health) and where testing is limited. However, symptoms due to COVID-19 vary and many who have COVID-19 do not have a fever; people may spread the virus before they start feeling sick, or even in the absence of any illness. Also, in settings with low levels of transmission, only a small percentage of people with fever are actually infected with COVID-19. The University of Florida requires all employees, students and visitors who have symptoms suggesting they are sick (including fever, shortness of breath, cough or diarrhea) to stay at home. 

There are exceptions to this as mentioned above. UF Health outpatient practices and hospitals may require a temperature or symptom screen before allowing entry. The UF College of Dentistry, based on recommendations from the American Dental Association, is taking and recording temperatures for everyone who enters a UF dental facility – dental patients as well as dental faculty, staff, residents, and students. Baby Gator Development Schools is also using temperature screening in keeping with CDC guidelines for child care facilities.

Will employees, students and visitors be required to wear a face mask or cloth face covering while attending classes or working in UF facilities?

Yes, a face mask or cloth face covering will be required everywhere on campus except when in a private office, a work area away separated by at least 6 feet from others or in a well-ventilated outdoor areas separated by at least 6 feet from others. People not using a face mask or covering (outside of the exceptions noted) will be asked to put one on or leave the area to help maintain the safety of our faculty, staff and students. A number of masks will be distributed; employees may need to provide their own if supplies are limited. While face masks and coverings may provide you with some protection, their primary purpose is decrease the risk of spreading viruses and other respiratory diseases by protecting people exposed to you, as you may not be showing outward signs of infection. It is important to use a face mask or covering correctly and follow the basic guidance below:     

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a face mask or cloth face covering when around others or out in public — for example, in the common area of an office suite or in the restroom, at the grocery store or when picking up other necessities etc.
  • Wear a face mask/cloth face covering when they have to go out in public—for example, to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities
  • Do not place a face masks/cloth face covering on children under age 2 or on anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • A face mask meant for a health care worker (N95) is not necessary, unless you are in a setting where there is the potential for direct exposure to a person/persons infected with COVID-19.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet (2 meters) between yourself and others. 
  • Note that the face mask/cloth face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing.

Faculty & Staff

Is the online screening questionnaire required for all UF faculty and staff?

Yes, all faculty and staff are required to take the online screening questionnaire. Testing is strongly recommended for all. 

Does this apply to Jacksonville-based faculty, residents, fellows and staff?

All University of Florida faculty, residents, fellows and staff working on the UF Health Jacksonville and UF Health North campuses as well as outpatient practices and other locations are expected to follow these requirements.

Does this apply to UF Health Jacksonville employees?

Currently, the screening requirements only apply to University of Florida faculty, residents, fellows and staff. Eventually, UF Health Jacksonville employees will be expected to follow these requirements. More information will be provided in the near future.

I am a UF employee, but I do not work on the main UF campus. Does this apply to me?

Yes, all University of Florida faculty and staff, regardless of location, will be required to complete the online screening questionnaire. Plans for faculty and staff outside of Gainesville and Alachua County are currently underway. For now, and until further guidance is provided, you may continue to follow your department’s current protocols until more information is available.

Does this apply to University Athletic Association (UAA) and extension faculty and staff?

Yes, UAA employees and extension faculty and staff will be screened in phases over several weeks. Initially these efforts will be focused on the main UF campus, research enterprise and academic health center. In the coming weeks, we will provide more information about how testing will be conducted statewide.

I am a researcher and have heard about a research resumption plan. Is this different?

The UF Office of Research is implementing a Research Resumption Plan with specific guidelines for resuming research in the field and in laboratories. Please review these guidelines for your research endeavors.

What if I have been working on the UF campus as an essential staff member the entire time? Do I still have to be screened?

Yes, all faculty and staff are required to take the online screening questionnaire. Testing is strongly recommended for all. 

If I test positive and do not have enough vacation or sick time to cover the 14-day quarantine, can I teach or work from home during those 14 days?

Yes, if you are feeling well enough to work from home and your department has granted you permission to work at an alternate work location, you may work from home. If you are not feeling well enough to work, there are several options for taking leave or you may also apply for additional leave through UF’s leave donation program. Please review the UF HR guidelines for these programs.

Students

Are all students required to get screened prior to returning on campus?

Yes, all students will be required to be screened. The timing of when screening is available and when you will return to campus is still being developed. Currently, the university plans to announce in mid-July what the fall semester will look like.   

What does “returning to campus” mean?

Coming back to campus includes attending classes in person, living on campus and participating in campus activities and events at any UF campus.

UF Health Patients

As a patient who has to visit a doctor’s office, do I have to get screened or tested before coming into the hospital or practice?

UF Health outpatient practices and hospitals are screening all visitors and patients when they arrive, not online prior to arriving. You are not required to be tested for COVID-19 unless you are undergoing a procedure or surgery or will be admitted to the hospital. In that case, your physician will discuss this process with you. For full details on hospital and outpatient screening, please review the Visitor Guidelines.

I need to go to the ER or to my doctor’s office, but I am afraid because I might be exposed to someone with COVID-19. What are you doing to keep me safe?

UF Health hospitals and outpatient practices have implemented several measures to ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff. Please review all UF Health safety measures.

Media

Who can provide an interview about UF Health Screen, Test & Protect?

Please contact UF Health Communications media relations coordinator Ken Garcia, 352-273-9799, or University of Florida AVP for Communications Steve Orlando, 352-846-3903.