UW-Madison switches coronavirus testing protocol to drop-in format

MADISON, Wis. — UW-Madison is switching their coronavirus testing protocol to a drop-in format after previously following an appointment-based format for two weeks before the semester starts.

The “Safer Badgers” mobile app will now offer approximate wait times at each location.

This change comes just a day before students return to classes for the spring semester. The fall semester had no testing requirements.

“What we realized after about three weeks of about pilot or soft launch testing is that we believe we can move people through the test sites more quickly and reduce wait times if we move to a drop in system,” said Meredith McGlone, UW-Madison spokesperson.

The new system asks students living on campus to get a saliva test every 72 hours in order to earn access to certain buildings. Testing locations have been open for two weeks on campus, and McGlone says many students have already been tested. Three of the 14 testing locations were open Sunday, the day before the start of spring semester classes.

McGlone said students will not be penalized for not having a negative test during their first week back.

“This first week, while we will have Badger Wellness Ambassadors at buildings checking peoples badgers, we’re not turning away any students this week if they haven’t gotten a negative test yet. They’ll have a week to get up to speed,” said McGlone.

The university encouraged any students coming back to campus early to get tested as soon as possible. McGlone said she expects the hiring of more health technicians as the semester goes on.