Testing for Summer 2022
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln offers free COVID-19 testing services. Any member of the university community who receives a positive test report should report their case to the Public Health Advocacy Team. For the health of the university community, please cooperate with any contact-tracing information requests you may receive.
For summer, there is one campus testing location, located at the Nebraska Union. The Safer Community app and the COVID-19 Online Portal remain in service. For more information, please refer to our comprehensive resources on Testing, Reporting & Contact Tracing.
If we see the development of concentrated cases on campus or increases in the Lincoln/Lancaster County community, we may return to a broader testing strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
About the Saliva Testing Program
Who pays for my saliva testing?All saliva testing is free for students, faculty and staff.
What type of test can I expect?The university is requiring saliva-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19. The saliva samples are collected at testing locations across the university’s campuses. Download a Fact Sheet for Patients about the saliva-based testing.
How accurate are these tests?Across the clinical evaluation studies cited in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for the SalivaDirect™ assay, there was over 94% agreement in positive results between the saliva test and nasopharyngeal swab-based PCR testing. There was over 90% agreement in negative results.
Is there need for a follow-up nasal swab test to confirm the saliva test result?No, unlike current COVID-19 antigen tests, the accuracy of saliva-based PCR testing does not warrant follow-up nasal swab testing to confirm the result.
Should I take my scheduled saliva test if I have COVID-19 symptoms?If you are symptomatic, please seek a UNL saliva test right away. If you test positive, you must isolate and, after recovery, you will be eligible to request a 90-day exemption from the saliva-based testing program.
Where is the lab?Processing and analysis of all saliva samples is conducted at the Veterinary Diagnostic Center on East Campus.
Mobile Application Information
How does the mobile app work?Information on use of the Safer Community app can be found on the Safer Community App page.
What if I don’t have a smartphone?If you don’t own a smartphone, you can use Safer Community for the web on a desktop or laptop device and obtain your results online.
How do you plan to keep my data secure?All data systems involved in the analysis and reporting of your test results, including the mobile application, are designed with the highest standards of encryption and security protocols for maintaining data classified with this level of sensitivity. Your results will be encrypted and securely fed to your mobile application or your portal accessible only with your UNL credentials. See Safer Community Privacy Statement.
Test Scheduling and Collection Sites
I scheduled a test and now I need to reschedule. What should I do?You can cancel and reschedule in either your Apple or Android app. Under Next Step in the app it shows scheduled tests and there is a cancel button you can select. Then go into schedule a test and select a new time. In the web system, you can cancel or reschedule in the e-mail confirmation.
Where do I go for testing?Testing is offered at multiple locations on City and East campuses.
Can I use any of the UNL testing locations or am I assigned to one?Each time you register for your test, you can sign up to use any of the UNL saliva-based testing locations. Choose whichever one is most convenient for your schedule
What are the hours for testing?Hours and specific locations are available within the Safer Community app.
Do I have to do anything to prepare for the test?
Once you have scheduled your appointment, plan to arrive at the testing site 5 minutes prior to your appointment. Have your mobile phone with the Safer Community App PLUS a photo id, such as N card, driver’s license or passport available. If you do not have a smartphone, you will need to arrive at your testing appointment with your ID and be prepared to provide your name and NU ID number.
Because it is a saliva test, on the day of your test, drink plenty of water. Thirty minutes prior to your test, avoid food, chewing gum, lozenges/cough drops, lollipops/suckers, tobacco products, lipstick or color lip products, mouth wash and drinks other than water. Watch this COVID-19 Saliva Testing Video to learn how to prepare for and provide the best sample during your testing appointment.
What do I need to bring with me to the testing site?You are required to bring your phone with the Safer Community app downloaded, as well as a photo identification card (NCard or government issued identification card, such as driver’s license or passport).
How long should I expect to wait in line and provide my sample?You should arrive promptly and anticipate around 5 minutes for on-site registration and to provide a sample. However, please allow at least 15 minutes to include any wait time.
Can I get tested during work hours?Yes. Employees should discuss arrangements for testing with a supervisor to minimize impacts on regular duties.
I work at night on campus. Will I have to come in on my own time to get tested?You may provide your saliva samples during your scheduled working hours.
What should I do if I become symptomatic?If you are symptomatic for COVID-19, schedule a UNL saliva test or a test through the University Health Center or your healthcare provider right away. Don’t wait for a later scheduled test.
How will I receive results?You will receive your results through your Safer Community App. In addition to scheduling your appointments, Safer Community supports notifications of your results. If you don't have a smartphone, you can view your results at COVID-19 Test Results.
How soon can I expect results?The university-led saliva testing program will release results generally within the day that follows the day you test.
I just received a COVID-19 vaccination. Will it impact my saliva test results?The vaccine will not affect test results or exempt you from being part of the mitigation testing. Information regarding the vaccine and its impact on testing is available on the Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines page on the CDC’s website.
It’s been a full day and I still haven’t received my results.Most individuals will receive their test results in the Safer Community app by the end of the day following the day of their test. Rare exceptions might include when a test sample needs to be re-run by the lab. If you haven’t received your results within the day that follows the day you test, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
My saliva test is positive—now what?If your saliva test result is positive, you will be contacted by UNL’s Public Health Advocacy Team who will offer you support and resources to navigate school and work and also to conduct contact tracing for the UNL community. You will also be contacted by the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Please be sure to return phone messages/or emails from PHAT and LLCHD as quickly as possible. The Public Health Advocacy Team will keep confidential your identity and health information, sharing information only as needed with Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department to coordinate contact tracing and to notify your identified close contacts of exposure. The university will provide isolation housing at no additional cost to students who need it. Any student, regardless of whether they live in University Housing, should contact Residence Life at 402-472-1717 to arrange for isolation housing.
How will my results be used?Results will be used to trigger contact tracing conducted by the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team in coordination with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. Positive test results are shared with the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory for possible SARS-CoV-2 variant testing as part of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services SARS-CoV-2 variant detection program.
How do you plan to keep my results private?All data systems involved in the analysis and reporting of your test results, including the mobile application, are designed with the highest standards of encryption and security protocols for maintaining data classified with this level of sensitivity. Your results will be encrypted and securely fed to your mobile application or your portal accessible only with your UNL credentials Other than feeding your mobile application or secure portal, results are only shared with the UNL Public Health Advocacy Team for the purposes of contact tracing in our UNL community, and with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD). All COVID-19 test results from all entities that conduct testing are required to be shared with DHHS and LLCHD during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of the week of March 29, 2021, this sharing with DHHS also affords UNL participation in the DHHS SARS-CoV-2 variant detection program conducted through the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory. See Safer Community Privacy Statement.
How long will saliva sample materials be kept?
As of the week of March 29, 2021, saliva samples determined to be positive for SARS-CoV-2 by the UNL Saliva Testing program will be shared with the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory for possible SARS-CoV-2 variant testing. When the amount of virus present in a sample is sufficient for variant testing, such testing will be conducted.
Given that multiple variants of SARS-CoV-2 have been identified globally and in the United States, the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has initiated a program for detection of and surveillance for these variants in Nebraska. As part of this program, DHHS requested that UNL provide saliva samples positive for SARS-CoV-2 to the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory for whole virus genome sequencing, the only laboratory method available to identify if any variants are present in the SARS-CoV-2 RNA genome from a positive sample. Participation in this program will readily allow for detection of any variant virus sequences, and in turn, thorough case investigations and contact tracing efforts to further mitigate any spread of COVID-19. Individuals whose samples are positive for a variant may be notified by their local county health department, in most cases Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department (LLCHD).
All saliva samples determined to be negative for SARS-CoV-2 by the UNL Saliva Testing program have been and will continue to be disposed of after three days, following established biosafety practices.
Why doesn’t HIPAA apply to this testing and the use of the results?
HIPAA only applies to certain entities, known as covered entities. Covered entities include health plans, health care clearinghouses and health care providers that engage in certain electronic transactions. Organizations such as schools and universities have some components of their organization covered by HIPAA and other components that are not. It is very common that not all components of universities that handle identifiable information are covered by HIPAA. This testing is being conducted in a component of the University that does not qualify as a covered entity under HIPAA.
A more detailed explanation is offered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (a hybrid entity, such as a university, has the option to exclude a research laboratory, that functions as a health care provider but does not engage in electronic transactions).