COVID-19 Testing

New this semester: At-home antigen tests are available to all UW–Madison students and employees at no-cost, with a limit of one test kit per person each week. We encourage antigen testing as a tool for everyone to use, but unvaccinated members of campus should pursue PCR testing to remain compliant, or to obtain an exemption after a positive test result.

No-cost PCR testing continues this spring semester by appointment through the  MyUHS app or the MyUHS web portal.

Spring Testing Overview

This semester, in response to the omicron variant of COVID-19, UW–Madison is offering a greater variety and a larger quantity of tests than last semester, at no cost to students and employees. We are maintaining our previous PCR capacity of 5,000 tests per week. In addition, we have ordered, and have received delivery of a significant quantity of antigen tests which will allow us to provide them to students for recommended testing prior to the beginning of the semester. Beginning on January 25 (the first day of instruction), we plan to begin distribution of antigen tests to individual faculty and staff as well. We are continually working with multiple suppliers to expand our supply in this period of higher viral spread and public demand for tests.

Consolidating PCR testing at one testing site – the University Club, 803 State St. (intersection of State Street Mall and East Campus Mall) – allows us to staff more efficiently while maintaining a robust capacity. The take-home antigen kits provide added convenience because they can be picked up in advance and used when needed. Most antigen testing provides results within 15 minutes, compared to 24 to 48 hours for campus PCR testing. This type of test is useful for quickly diagnosing infections and containing the spread of disease.

We need everyone’s cooperation in using campus testing resources responsibly. If you are using campus PCR testing, avoid no-shows or last-minute cancellations. In addition to campus-provided antigen testing, which we have secured for the use of students and employees, we encourage you to use the growing number of off-campus antigen testing resources, including four free kits offered by Covidtests.gov and up to eight free kits per person per month covered by health insurance. If you want to store multiple test kits at home, please acquire these separately in order to make responsible use of campus supplies.

Which test should I take and what should I do based on the results?

That depends on:

Read the complete guide to testing

Employees and students who have not yet provided proof of full vaccination, please note:

  • You are required to take a PCR test at least once per week.
  • If you develop symptoms or are a close contact, you should take a PCR test (if available) or an antigen test as soon as possible – do not wait until you are due for your next weekly PCR test.
  • Antigen testing does not count toward your weekly testing requirement. A positive antigen test will not exempt you from weekly testing. You will need a positive PCR test on file.
  • You will be exempted from weekly testing once you have provided proof of vaccination via MyUHS.

Antigen Testing

The at-home antigen tests provided by UW–Madison are intended for students and employees who:

  • Are not having symptoms AND are not a close contact of someone with COVID-19, but still want to test for COVID-19.
  • Are having symptoms OR are a close contact of someone who has tested positive*.

*If you are having symptoms OR are a close contact, you may use either an antigen test or a PCR test.

Plan to pick up an antigen kit when they are available and keep it on hand to use when needed.

Read the complete guide to testing

How to obtain an antigen test

  • Students in residence halls: You will receive your first antigen test kit in your residence hall upon move-in.
  • Students living off campus: Antigen test kits will be available to students at no cost with a valid Wiscard. Pickup will be at Memorial Union and Union South, Jan. 18 – 24 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Starting Jan. 25. pickup will continue on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Feb. 4. For pickup after Feb. 4, return here for updates. At this time there is a limit of one kit per person per week.
  • Employees: Starting Tuesday, Jan. 25, and based on adequate supplies, antigen test kits will be available at no cost at Memorial Union and Union South to employees with a valid Wiscard weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Feb. 4. For pickup after Feb. 4, return here for updates. At this time, there is a limit of one kit per person per week.

How to take the test

You will administer the test yourself, following the instructions in the test kit. You may take the test immediately or keep it to use later.

In keeping with the State of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 reporting practices, you are not required to submit results from self-administered antigen tests to the MyUHS app or website. Currently the state requirement for reporting is a positive PCR test or a positive antigen test administered by a trained individual at a testing site.

PCR Testing

UW–Madison PCR tests are intended for students and employees who:

  • Are having symptoms OR are a close contact of someone who has tested positive*.
  • Are completing a second test as recommended to confirm an antigen result.
  • Are required to test for university-sponsored travel.
  • Are unvaccinated AND taking a required weekly test.

* If you are having symptoms OR are a close contact, you may use either an antigen test or a PCR test.

Read the complete guide to testing

How to get a PCR test

Appointments: Make an appointment at the University Club test site in the MyUHS app or web portal.

Hours: Testing is available by appointment Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., closed noon to 1 p.m. for lunch, and Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Location and accessibility: This site is accessible by walking, bicycling and bus. Please follow the sign for the general entrance to the testing location at the University Club. The accessible entrance is located on the southwest alley side of the building facing the Mosse Humanities Building. Signage will direct individuals from point of entry to the testing site. The attached map shows the pathways from the shuttle and campus bus stops to the accessible entrance to the University Club.

Parking: See details about parking for COVID-19 testing, including accessible (disabled) parking.

How to take the test

Testing site staff will guide you through the testing process at your appointment time.

If you no longer need to test or cannot keep your appointment, please cancel as soon as possible so it can be offered to someone else.

PCR tests performed on campus are automatically shared via the MyUHS app and website. If you receive a positive PCR test result off-campus, upload the result via the MyUHS app or website.

Off-Campus Testing Sites

Off-campus test results may not be used to satisfy the weekly testing requirement for people who have not provided proof of vaccination. An off-campus positive PCR test result may be used to receive a 90-day exemption from the weekly testing requirement; you must submit it via the MyUHS app or website.

For a complete database of community testing locations, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. If you are experiencing symptoms and need to get tested, you may also contact your healthcare provider.

In addition to campus-provided antigen testing, which we have secured for the use of students and employees, we encourage you to use the growing number of off-campus antigen testing resources, including four free kits offered by Covidtests.gov and up to eight free kits per person per month covered by health insurance. If you want to store multiple test kits at home, please acquire these separately in order to make responsible use of campus supplies.