Frequently Asked Questions

Many campus processes and procedures have been modified in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are responses to a number of questions that should help give you a sense of what to expect and what you may need to do differently when navigating the campus and its many resources.

Please be advised that some descriptions may refer to resources, buildings or providers of activities whose offices are currently closed. In nearly every case, however, those offices are available via the web, email, phone, etc. If you aren’t finding the information you are looking for here, please share your questions with us and we’ll get back to you.

The Business of Being a Student

Why is my Student ID Card important?

Your UCSC Student ID Card serves many functions. It is your official means of UCSC Identification, used to get meals in Dining Halls, check materials out from the campus libraries, ride certain city bus routes for free, can act as a key card giving you access to your residential building and more.

What is the first step I take to get my Student ID Card?

The process starts with you submitting a passport-type photo online. Staff will then advise you of next steps.


What changes can I expect to encounter in the residential communities on campus?

With recommendations from the CDC, state and local departments of health, and its own Student Health Services, Environmental Health & Safety and other campus offices, UCSC has reduced the number of available student accommodations to only single rooms in the residence halls. Accommodations in apartments are singles and doubles but no more than 5 residents per apartment and often fewer. Consideration has been given to reducing the ratio of students per bathroom on residential floors. So, there will be fewer overall students living on campus at this time.

How will I be able to engage with my on-campus community?

Residential Life staff have been hard at work developing several opportunities for connecting community members through a variety of online programs. More to come on this soon.

Dining on Campus

How is UCSC Dining operating during the pandemic?

With fewer people on campus, Dining Services has reduced the number of locations at which it is serving customers. Currently, only the Colleges Nine and Ten and the Crown/Merrill Dining Halls are open. Dining has also implemented numerous changes to its operations in support of everyone’s well-being. Currently, all dining hall meals must be ordered online, in advance, using the GET app or website. All meals must be taken to go. Face coverings and social distancing efforts are required. Here is a summary of the operational changes currently in place for Dining Services.

Is there any place on campus that I can pick up groceries and other essentials?

Dining has introduced The Market at University Center. Located just upstairs from the Colleges Nine & Ten Dining Hall, the market has grocery items, grab-n-go meals, snacks, bottled beverages, and coffee and espresso drinks. Cash, credit cards, and flexi dollars accepted. Customers must wear face coverings to enter.

✆ (831) 459-2689. More information available here.

I live in a residence hall; what are my meal plan options?

Students living in residence halls have two meal plan options that satisfy their meal plan requirement. Your plan is included with your housing contract and will activate after sequester meal service ends.

I don’t live in a residence hall; can I have a meal plan?

If you are a student living in campus apartments, ARCH communities, or local off-campus housing, you may purchase a voluntary meal plan. To purchase Slug Meals, Flexi Dollars, or a 5- or 7-Day Meal Plan, you must use the GET app or website to add these funds to your account using a credit card.

Where else can I get food on campus, besides the dining hall?

Visit the Dining locations page to see what’s open today.

What if I forget my mask?

The requirement to wear facial coverings is a state/county regulation, and you must have a face mask or other appropriate cloth facial covering to enter any dining facilities. Appropriate coverings include bandanas, neck gaiters, and homemade or commercially-produced face masks with a proper fit covering both your mouth and nose. Unfortunately, if you forget your mask and do not have an appropriate facial covering, you will not be able to enter the facility. Additional masks are not available, and you will be asked to leave until you are able to return with an appropriate facial covering. Please note: You will need to have a facial covering to pick up to-go food orders.

Getting Around Campus

Are the campus shuttles operating at this time? They are, but in very limited capacity – please review Transportation and Parking FAQs related to COVID-19. A limited number of riders, based on the size of the vehicle in use, will be allowed to board at one time. Face coverings are required to board. Riders are expected to maintain maximum distance between each other while on shuttles.

Are city buses running?

Yes, on a very limited schedule – more here.

Health and Wellbeing

What are my responsibilities to the UCSC community in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

Among the most important things all of us can do is to become acutely aware of the condition of our health. Take note of this every morning and be regularly tested for COVID-19. Register with Health e-Messenger to sign up for text reminders, take the daily surveys of your health status, and make appointments to be COVID-19 tested. Regular COVID-19 testing is mandatory in order to be on campus.

There is an obligation for all campus community members to join together at this time to support the health and well-being of ourselves and and to be considerate and responsible regarding the health of others. Testing for students living on campus is mandatory. The need for all of us to be regularly tested and other similar responsibilities are emphasized in UCSC’s Interim Public Health Policy.

Training Requirement:

All students (undergraduate and graduate) living on campus must complete COVID awareness and best-practices training: Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment for Students on Campus. Campus residents are automatically enrolled in this course and notified of its availability around the time of their arrival to campus.

Will the University have regular COVID-19 testing of its students?

Yes, all students who come onto campus or who live on campus are required to be tested on a regular basis.

Where can I get tested?

Currently, testing is available inside the Namaste Lounge at College Nine, at the Merrill Cultural Center, and at the Porter Hitchcock Lounge. Additional testing sites are expected to be available soon. All available testing sites will be updated and listed in the appointment section of Health e-Messenger.

What if I don’t feel well the day of my testing appointment?

If you feel unwell on the day of your appointment, do not come to the testing site. Instead, remain isolated from others and contact the Student Health Center’s Nurse Advice line at 831/459-2591 for direction on next steps.

How will I know the results of my test and when will I receive those results?

Test results should be available between 24 and 72 hours after testing. You will receive an email with instructions on how to access those.

Will the COVID-19 test be uncomfortable?

People are most familiar with the kind of testing in which a medical professional sticks a long cotton swab quite far up into your nose. This is NOT the kind of testing being used at UCSC. Rather, you will be provided a cotton swab that you will be asked to insert, yourself, no farther than a half inch inside each nostril.

If I am living off campus, am I required to participate in this testing program?

If you live off campus and never come to campus, no, you do not need to participate in this program.

However, if you live off campus and have plans to be on campus, to come to campus, you must perform the daily symptom check available through Health e-Messenger portal and, if the resulting Status Badge is green, and the first stop you need to make upon arriving to campus is a testing site. While the testing itself takes only a few minutes per person, please plan some extra time in case you need to wait in line.

What is asymptomatic testing?

Asymptomatic testing is different from what is commonly known as antibody testing – that is, testing to determine if someone has had COVID-19 and has developed antibodies in response to it. Asymptomatic testing tests for COVID-19 viral RNA particles and lets you know if you are currently or have recently been infected with the virus. This kind of testing is like a snapshot in time – the results of testing indicate what an individual’s status was at the moment they took the test. This is why repeated testing is necessary.

How can I best prepare to return to campus?

Stay healthy and practice all CDC recommended measures for resisting infection, including but not limited to wearing face coverings when with others, observe at least six feet of physical distance between yourself and others, etc. UCSC’s Student Health Center has plenty of information for you in this regard. Consider reviewing prevention measures offered by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, it is expected that all students who wish to reside on campus self-isolate for 14 days prior to coming to campus, and then be sequestered for another 14 days after arriving on campus.

Is UCSC doing COVID-19 testing for students?

In addition to the testing kiosks described above, the Student Health Center is providing testing services to students – an appointment is necessary.

What if I begin feeling unwell?

Be responsible by isolating yourself away from others, notify important people in your life (family, friends, professors, etc.), and call the Student Health Center.

How do I clean and disinfect my living/eating/studying/bathroom spaces?

The Center for Disease Control and Protection has a lot of information on this topic.

How has UC Santa Cruz prepared quarantine/isolation housing?

UC Santa Cruz has created a temporary housing solution for residents in need of quarantine or isolation housing related to COVID-19, in accordance with guidelines set by Center for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health.

A phased approach has been developed in relation to capacity. If the current prepared isolation/quarantine space becomes impacted by an increasing number of residents, a second quarantine/isolation space will be opened. If the second phased quarantine/isolation space becomes impacted, we will move to phase 3, and so on.

How is quarantine/isolation housing used?

When a UC Santa Cruz resident has potentially been exposed to COVID19, but does not display any symptoms (asymptomatic) or displays any of the COVID19 symptoms, the resident should be evaluated by the Student Health Center, which could be by phone. The resident may be tested for COVID19, under the direction of staff at the Student Health Center. If the Student Health Center has cause for concern, the resident may be requested to either isolate in place or temporarily relocate away from shared campus housing to limit the potential of exposure to others. If deemed necessary, staff at the Student Health Center will initiate arrangements for Quarantine/Isolation Housing. The resident may be requested to stay in Quarantine/Isolation Housing for up to 14 days, under the daily phone care of healthcare professionals from the Student Health Center. The university will arrange transportation to and from the quarantine/isolation housing, located on campus, if necessary. If the resident is tested for COVID19 and the result comes back negative, the resident may immediately move back to their residence in their community. The Student Health Center can be reached at (831)459-2500 or the Nurse Advice Line at (831459-2591.

Once a resident is able to safely check out of Quarantine/Isolation Housing, Custodial Services will sanitize and disinfect the space using CDC recommended cleaning procedures.

How do residents in quarantine/isolation Housing receive dining service?

UC Santa Cruz CHES-Dining Services has created a unique system to provide high quality snacks, meals and beverages, delivered directly to residents in Quarantine/Isolation Housing. The online meal ordering system link is provided to residents when they arrive at Quarantine/Isolation Housing. The meal order program takes into account special dietary needs/requests of the individual. Each room in Quarantine/Isolation Housing is outfitted with a microwave and refrigerator. Each room is also equipped with an electric tea kettle.

How can I think about responding to peers who are not following appropriate safety guidelines?

Always consider your own safety first. In less confrontational situations, it is increasingly acceptable to say “stand back”, or “six feet please” to remind others of expected physical distancing guidelines. If the situation seems appropriate, attempt to educate the person about how most people believe a face covering, for example, is a tool not just for reducing risk of infection for one’s self but for others as well. Getting angry, or attempting to shame someone will not necessarily produce the reaction you hope for. For those who don’t seem to be getting the message, it may be best to speak with an instructor or staff person who is better positioned to intervene in positive fashion.

Holding Up Under the Stress of COVID-19

I am concerned about affording the costs associated with my studies and/or residency at UCSC – what resources are available to help me develop a plan for success?

The campus offers a number of services for students facing all manner of challenges. The Financial Aid and Scholarships office regularly works to minimize financial barriers to support students in achieving their educational goals. The Division of Student Affairs and Success and their Slug Support Team can also provide advice and support to students facing challenges.

COVID-19 makes me feel isolated and afraid. Who can I speak with about managing all the stresses related to this situation?

Student Health Outreach & Promotion (SHOP) offers wellness coaching on a broad variety of topics including General Wellness, Sexual Health, Alcohol and Drugs, Nutrition, Time Management and more.

I’m feeling worse than just being stressed out – who can I speak with?

Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) offers a variety of Counseling services that are available for any registered UCSC student and are confidential. There is no out-of-pocket fee for CAPS services, and you don’t need UC SHIP or CruzCare to be seen at CAPS.

There are times when I really want to talk to or spend time with people who have had experiences similar to mine and who have likely faced similar struggles. Are there resources that can connect me with people who will understand my identity/identities?

The Resource Centers comprise the four Ethnic Resource Centers: African American Resource and Cultural Center, American Indian Resource Center, Asian American / Pacific Islander Resource Center, and “El Centro” the Chicano Latino Resource Center; as well as the Cantú Queer Center, and the Women’s Center. The centers are currently physically closed, but staff can still be reached by phone or email.

Accommodations are important to my success. Who can I speak with to help secure these valuable resources?

The Disability Resource Center (DRC), exists to assist the UCSC campus with equal educational access for students with disabilities. Its offices are currently closed but is holding remote appointments via phone and video.

Staying Informed

Information about the pandemic keeps changing – where can I easily find up-to-date information that ranges from right here in Santa Cruz on up to the global situation?

The State of California, Santa Cruz County, and the City of Santa Cruz each have regularly updated sites where you should be able to find information about current public health orders and more.

UCSC maintains a page that tracks incidences of COVID-19 among students, faculty and staff. The Health Services Agency for Santa Cruz County provides a forecast model and analyses providing historical data as well as projections. Johns Hopkins University & Medicine keeps a dashboard with statistical data and maps (from global down to individual counties) that tracks the spread of this disease.

Athletics and Recreation

Are Athletics and Recreation facilities open?

The pool is open for lap swimming and the East Tennis Courts are available for tennis on a reservation system. The reservations are available during limited operating hours and require full participation in campus COVID protocol, including the badge system. Reserve a time online. In addition, the outdoor jogging path around the Upper East Field, the Disc Golf Course, and the West Tennis Courts are currently available for drop-in use. Visit or to learn more about the Athletics & Recreation department and to stay updated on department news and announcements.

Does Athletics and Recreation offer any online programming?

Yes, Athletics & Recreation is offering some in-person programming including kayak tours of the Monterey Bay, local day hikes, and surfing lessons all offered by our Adventure Rec program. Athletics & Recreation also continues to offer a wide variety of virtual, recreational programming across FitLife, Intramural Sports, and Adventure Rec program areas. Some of the featured programming includes the McHenry Cup College Challenge, weekly Group Exercise classes and On-Demand Video Library, as well as the Active Slug Challenge. For the most updated information regarding Athletics & Recreation programs, please visit or for Athletics updates, please visit

Students Living Off-Campus

Do you have any advice on how I would go about looking for off-campus living arrangements?

UCSC’s Community Rentals Office has information available for both renters and landlords that should be helpful while navigating the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where in Santa Cruz County can I be COVID-19 tested?

In addition to the on-campus testing locations, there are several locations in the county that offer COVID-19 Testing. The County’s Health Services Agency has aTesting Locator that provides a map showing testing locations with address, hours of service, and contact information.