University of South Florida

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Information and Resources

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Random Testing Beginning at USF (8/31)

Dear USF Community,

Thank you for your continued adherence to USF’s campus safety measures as we work together to support the health of our communities. 

As described in our Return-to-Campus plan approved by state leaders this summer, any individuals returning to campus will be placed in a pool for random COVID-19 testing, which the university will implement as an important part of our surveillance strategy. This testing will begin this week. 

If you are selected at random to be tested, you will be notified by email with further instructions. Any student, faculty and staff whose COVID-19 test comes back positive will be notified of their test results and instructed to self-isolate until medically cleared.

Our surveillance strategy also includes identifying possible cases through the required Daily Symptom Checker, as well as environmental sampling of high-touch surfaces in frequently visited areas on our campuses. You may be asked to be tested in response to information learned from either of these surveillance mechanisms. Your cooperation is vitally important to our overall efforts to promote health and safety on our campuses.  

We understand that, as with any new university process, you may have questions. Please review the below FAQs. 

FAQs on random testing

Will students, faculty and staff have to pay for tests ordered under the random testing requirement?
No. Students, faculty and staff required to be tested under the random testing protocol will not be charged for tests.

Can I refuse random testing?
Yes, but you may be asked to self-isolate and remain off campus for a two-week period.  You may also be subject to disciplinary action.

If I’m selected for random testing but no longer plan on coming to campus this semester, do I still need to present myself for testing?
We will assess these situations on a case-by-case basis. The surveillance strategy is designed to detect viral activity on campus, so depending on how often you are coming to campus, you may still need to participate in the testing program.  

I’ve been selected for random testing but do not plan to come to campus until next week. Do I need to come to campus this week to satisfy my testing requirement?  
If you are drawn as part of the weekly random sample, you need to participate during that specific week. Where necessary, we will work with individuals to determine an alternative method to acquire a test.

FAQs on cluster screening

What would cause me to be tested as part of a cluster screening strategy?
If environmental sampling indicates the presence of the virus in a particular space, persons who have been in that space may be asked to be tested. Similarly, if responses to the Daily Symptom Checker indicate a greater than anticipated number of persons with symptoms in a specific population or linked to a particular space on campus, members of that population or who have been in that space may be asked to be tested.

If I’m asked to be tested as part of cluster screening, do I need to self-isolate while awaiting the test results?
No. Unlike a situation where a person is known to have been directly exposed to a person positive for COVID-19, the presumption in the surveillance strategy is that no one is infected unless and until we learn otherwise. We will use the most rapid test method available so that results can be obtained as quickly as possible and any positive cases will be isolated immediately. 

As a reminder, anyone who comes to campus is required to follow the university’s guidelines for wearing face coverings, maintaining physical distancing, hand washing, disinfecting spaces and other posted mitigation measures. Anyone who does not comply with these requirements will be asked to leave. 

The health and safety of our campus community -- and the communities around us -- depends on this important shared responsibility. Your participation in this surveillance protocol is essential to our efforts to reduce the spread of the virus on our campuses. Thank you for doing your part.

Please visit our Coronavirus site for more information and review our extensive FAQ. If you have further questions, visit

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Coronavirus Updates

This is an evolving situation. Please refer to the most recent information presented.

USF students, faculty and staff: Please check your USF email frequently. Your email will be used to convey targeted information.

The University of South Florida continues to closely monitor the evolving coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The health and safety of our students, faculty and staff is our highest priority as university leaders work closely with local, state and federal agencies to share the most updated information.