UC San Diego places COVID-19 test kits in vending machines throughout campus

The documentation and instructions from a COVID-19 self-administered test kit are seen on May 8, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

The University of California San Diego campus has launched a "Return to Learn" campaign that includes nearly a dozen vending machines placed around campus that offer self-administered COVID-19 test kits.

Additional machines are planned and administrators hope that in addition to health care provider-administered tests, the one-stop shops help students meet the campus’ testing requirements.

The 1,000 students living on campus are required to be tested at least once a week, with no more than nine days between two tests, and testing is available free to students. They can acquire the test from the vending machine with a simple swipe of a student ID card. They then perform the test and return it to an on-campus lab within 72 hours.

"They’re an amazing innovation, simple, effective and impactful," UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep Khosla told Reuters.

As part of the university’s "Return to Learn" campaign, employees who have been working remotely will continue to do so through May 31, and there "will continue to be a low-density population on campus to provide plenty of space for effective physical distancing."

Employees and students who report to campus are required to submit a daily self-screening for COVID-19 before arrival. Less than 10% of the Winter 2021 undergraduate courses will be offered in person, and they are only permitted to be conducted in outdoor classrooms. If a class is permitted to be held indoors, occupancy is limited to fewer than 50 students per class, or 25% of classroom capacity.

Student housing is also remaining at single occupancy, and visitors are not allowed. Should a student test positive, they will be moved to on-campus isolation housing.

The campus is also conducting wastewater surveillance and testing sewage samples every 24 hours to detect potential outbreaks before they occur, Reuters reported.

A spokesperson told the news outlet that less than 600 students have tested positive for COVID-19 over the last 10 months.

"Due to the dynamic public health situation, UC San Diego will remain flexible," a "Return to Learn" information release stated. "As has been the case since the beginning of this unprecedented challenge, the University’s plans may change as the pandemic evolves and health authorities respond. While the California reopening plan is executed and assessed at each phase, UC San Diego will notify campus community members of any changes to their learning and work situations as appropriate. In all decisions, the health and safety of students, employees and local communities will be paramount."

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