The University of California San Diego (UCSD) has installed vending machines around campus with free COVID-19 tests for students, faculty, and staff as part of its efforts to return to secure in-person instruction throughout this week.

Everyone at the university is expected to undergo daily symptom and exposure screenings and take part in weekly testing at no cost.

“While UC San Diego is one of the few colleges in the nation with low rates of infection and a large student body on campus, the university remains vigilant to reduce transmission of virus in our community to the greatest extent possible,” UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla said in a statement.

This initiative is a part of UCSD’s “Return to Learn” program, which aims to uphold campus safety against the coronavirus through the university’s winter quarter.

Quick and Discreet Testing

The vending machines give individuals an opportunity to test themselves for the virus at their own convenience and drop their swabs into boxes next to the machines. These boxes are then delivered to clinics and will be returned within 72 hours.

This could be a significant step forward in empowering students to be more proactive about monitoring their activities and symptoms because studies indicate that there is a stigma associated with getting tested for the coronavirus.

A total of 20 test kit vending machines will be installed in high traffic locations such as lobbies, laundry rooms, and near food outlets.

Monitoring Wastewater Outflow for COVID-19

Another initiative in the Return to Learn program is the monitoring of wastewater outflow. Wastewater can contain traces of the coronavirus and the university will immediately notify students and staff in buildings linked to a manhole where the sample was taken if they detect any strains of infection.

UCSD has a dashboard so that individuals can easily review COVID-19 infection rates around campus. It also has a separate webpage for updates on the self-administered testing procedure.