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College of Pharmacy

Saliva Assay Free Expedited (SAFE) Testing

To broaden the University of South Carolina’s testing capacity and help the university maintain face-to-face classes and organizational activities, the College of Pharmacy has received state and federal authorization to collect saliva samples for COVID-19 testing.

IMPORTANT: Anyone who is experiencing symptoms should make an appointment with Student Health Services to obtain a test through the MyHealthSpace portal. Additional community testing locations are available throughout the Midlands.


Schedule for June 21 – 27

  • No appointment needed for saliva testing at the SAFE testing locations: 1311 Pendleton St. or Russell House Underground.
  • Be sure to bring your Carolina Card to get tested. We also encourage you to bring your cell phone to record your test barcode.
  • Please do not eat, drink, chew gum, or use tobacco products within 30 minutes prior to saliva testing and do not drink water 10 minutes prior to the saliva test.

Monday, June 21 – Thursday, June 24

Friday, June 25

Saturday, June 26 – Sunday, June 27
  • No testing

Saliva Based Testing for COVID-19

The test is free, quick, and noninvasive and results can typically be shared within 24-48 hours after the sample is collected. Testing is only available to current students, faculty, staff, affiliates (UofSC auxiliary services), and their spouses.

You should not participate in saliva based testing if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms. These include, but are not limited to, coughing, fever, sensory loss of taste or smell, shortness of breath, headaches and/or sore throat. Instead, visit MyHealthSpace to schedule a telemedicine appointment to be evaluated by a provider. If you have questions, call the Coronavirus Phone Bank at 803-576-8511

A key factor in the rapid spread of COVID-19 infections across a community is that individuals can have the virus but not display symptoms. In order to monitor potential spread of this sort, public health experts have consistently noted that regular and ongoing COVID-19 testing is crucial for the successful and sustained opening of higher education institutions, specifically for face-to-face instruction.  Saliva based testing will accomplish this goal for the university community.

Students, faculty, and staff who would like to participate in saliva based COVID-19 testing must bring their ID to a registration site. The testing samples will be collected and coded in a manner that ensures confidentiality and protects privacy. Participation is entirely voluntary. Positive test results will be shared with Student Health Services. SHS will offer additional support should you test positive. Positive results will also be shared with university housing if you live in an on-campus residence hall.

  • Do not eat or drink anything (including gum, candy or nasal spray) or use any tobacco or vaping products for at least 30 minutes prior to your SAFE test. Do not drink water for 10 minutes prior to the administration of your test.
  • Remember that, at the SAFE testing site, you will be asked to provide a saliva sample (5 ml which is equal to one teaspoon), so we encourage you to think about some of your favorite foods while walking to the testing site. Those thoughts of pizza, cheese fries, or milkshake will stimulate the saliva glands in your mouth and make your test go quicker. You can also move your tongue back and forth in your mouth to stimulate saliva flow.
  1. Understand the Environment: Please bring your ID with you. When lining up to enter the testing site, you are expected to maintain social distancing.
  2. Register: When directed by a staff monitor, you will approach the registration table and a collection staff member will register you by name or ID number. The staff member will scan the barcode on an empty sample test tube, attach a label with your information, and  give the tube to you. Take a photograph of the barcode for your reference.

  3. Test Area: You may sit or stand, provided you maintain social distancing who are testing. Chairs are provided or standing markers will be in place.

  4. Provide Sample: Collect naturally occurring saliva in your mouth and deposit it up to the 5ml mark of your barcoded test tube. (This is the equivalent of one teaspoon.) Bubbles do not count towards your 5 ml of saliva.

  5. Close the Sample Tube Securely: When your clear saliva sample reaches the 5 ml mark, your saliva collection is complete. Secure the test tube top on and proceed to the check out table.

  6. Check Out Table: Following safe social distancing guidelines and when space is available, show your sample tube to a staffer for them to verify the 5 ml volume. Do not hand it to a staffer but carefully place your sample tube into a rack on the table.

  7. Sanitize: Hand sanitizer will be provided to you before you leave.

Testing participants will have their results automatically uploaded to MyHealthSpace. While there are several variables that can impact the length of time between your test and notification of your results, we will make all efforts to ensure that participants will be able to receive results within 24 to 48 hours.

  • If SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19, is detected in your sample, you will receive a phone call from a physician in Student Health Services who will answer questions and provide resources about next steps. It is important that you speak with the SHS physician when that individual calls.

  • If your test is negative, your displayed results will indicate this result. Even if your test is negative, you are encouraged to continue to maintain safe practices.

  • Your sample may also be rejected by the lab if the sample cannot be tested due to sampling errors – if this is the case, please provide another sample.

Test participation assistance

If you believe that you might need personal assistance in providing your sample for the saliva based COVID-19 testing for any reason, please email to determine how best to facilitate your participation in the program.

How often you should get a COVID-19 test

The test is free, even for multiple tests.  It is completely acceptable to take the test more than once and on a regular basis.  We encourage you to test as often as reasonable but not more than once every three days if showing signs of illness, or once a week if healthy.  Other situations that may impact your decision to test include: (a) time between tests; (b) following situations where you were unable to maintain physical distancing for an extended period, or (c) when you believe that you have been around an individual with the virus.

Benefits of regular COVID-19 testing

COVID-19 is a communicable disease that is easily spread. Re-testing is the very best way to protect your friends and loved ones with whom you come into contact. Regular testing has the opportunity of detecting the virus early. Early detection makes it possible to identify viral infection providing the option of early intervention, treatment and providing necessary information so that appropriate isolation or quarantine procedures can begin, further protecting the people you see most often. Using this testing approach, we can greatly reduce the spread of the virus.

Diagnostic Genomics Lab testing vs. Student Health Center testing

Both the Diagnostic Genomics Laboratory testing using saliva and the nasal swab testing utilized at Student Health Services are safe and both have been scientifically proven to be reliable.  The only instance where an individual must test at SHS is when they are displaying symptoms.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.