University of Wisconsin–Madison
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Safer Badgers Guide

Using the App

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Safer Badgers - Replacing the APK Android app with the Play Store version

If you previously installed the Android version of Safer Badgers from a source other than the Google Play Store, you must replace the Box download with the Google Play Store version.

See Safer Badgers – Replacing the APK Android app with the Play Store version for detailed steps.

Setting up the app

For detailed, step-by-step instructions on setting up the app, see Safer Badgers – Getting started with iOS and Android.

Setting up a loaner device

For detailed instructions is setting up a loaner device from DoIT, please see Safer Badgers – Loaner Device Setup Instructions.

Getting your test results and what to do if you test positive

Test results are expected to be available within 24 hours, often sooner, and will appear under the “Your COVID-19 Event History” section in the Safer Badgers app. To see your results, tap the More Info arrow for your most recent test. You will also receive a push notification on your phone alerting you that you have a new message on the Safer Badgers app.

Students living in residence halls who receive a positive test are required to isolate for 10 days in designated on-campus spaces. Faculty, staff and students who live off-campus or choose to isolate in an off-campus location should also isolate for 10 days.

If you test positive for COVID-19, the app will note that you are in isolation and your access to campus buildings will be denied for that period. If you are not experiencing any symptoms within the last 24 hours of your isolation, you will be able to once again access campus buildings and will be exempt from testing for 80 days.

See Safer Badgers – Viewing your Test Results for additional details.

Receiving exposure notifications

The Safer Badgers app tells you if you may have been exposed to COVID-19, securely and anonymously.

To enable exposure notifications:

  1. Enable the Exposure Notification feature during the app setup or in the Settings menu.
  2. Allow Safer Badgers to use Bluetooth and location services when prompted.
  3. Allow Safer Badgers to display notifications.

Your phone may display a notification that says “Checking for exposures…” while exposure notifications are enabled.

See Safer Badgers – Exposure Notifications for additional details.

Reporting your symptoms (Symptom Check-in)

The Symptom Check-in feature lets you self-report symptoms and maintain a log of symptoms you are experiencing.

  1. Tap on the Symptom Check-in button on the Safer Badgers Home screen.
  2. Check the boxes next to any symptoms you are experiencing.
  3. Tap Submit at the bottom of the page.

Important: Your building access status may change based on symptoms you’ve self-reported. Please test again at an on-campus testing location to regain building access.

You can view previously submitted symptoms by tapping View Health History from the Safer Badgers home screen.

See Safer Badgers – Symptom Check-in for additional details.

Encryption keys and secret QR code

Safer Badgers uses encryption to protect your data in Safer Badgers.  The COVID-19 QR secret code represents the encryption keys used. It enables Safer Badgers to:

  • Unlock your test results and reported symptoms.
  • Transfer your encryption keys to a second or replacement phone.

For your privacy and protection:

  • We don’t store a copy of your QR code.
  • Don’t share your QR code with anyone else.
  • Don’t lose your QR code.

See Safer Badgers – Encryption Keys and Secret QR code for additional details.

Data usage

The Safer Badgers app first tries to use your device’s WiFi connection, if available. If your device’s WiFi connection is too weak or if you have WiFi disabled, it will then use your cellular data.

Note: this is default behavior is subject to your device’s settings and whatever changes you may have made to them.

If you’re using a Safer Badgers device borrowed from DoIT, there is no cost to you for data used.


For the most up-to-date information on app accessibility, including known barriers and suggested workarounds, please see Safer Badgers App – Accessibility & Usability Information.


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My app isn't updating

If you’re unable to update to the latest version of the Safer Badgers app, you may need to force the app to close. 

For iOS

See How to force an app to close on your iphone, iPad or iPod touch.

For Android

  1. Tap and hold the Safer Badgers app icon.
  2. Tap App Info.
  3. Tap Force stop.

Alternate instructions for older Android devices

If you aren’t able to uninstall the app following the preceding steps, try the following:

  1. Open Settings on your device.
  2. Tap on Apps or Application manager.
  3. Tap on the Safer Badgers app icon. You may need to scroll to find it.
  4. Tap Force stop.

Unable to log in (iOS only)

If you use a device running iOS 12 and have changed the default browser to Chrome or Firefox, you may be unable to log in.

In order to log in, change your default browser to Safari. To do so:

  1. Navigate to iOS Settings > Safari > Default Browser App.
  2. Select Safari.
  3. Return to Safer Badgers and complete the login process.

See Safer Badgers – Unable to Log In for additional details.

My status is "Not Available" and my building access is "Denied"

The Safer Badgers app requires an internet connection. Check your internet connection and refresh your status.

iPhone: Connect your NetID fails with a blank page after logging in

The Content Restriction feature of iOS can interfere with the MFA-Duo prompt on iOS. Do the following to log in successfully:

  1. Navigate to Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Content Restrictions > Web Content.
  2. Uncheck Limit Adult Websites to completely disable content restrictions.

If you do not want to fully disable content restrictions, you can allow (not within the Content Restrictions page on the iOS device. This will allow the MFA-Duo prompt to display even if content restrictions are enabled.

Safer Badgers is not available in my country's app store

You can only download the Safer Badgers app on the Google Play Store (coming soon) and Apple App Store (available now) in the United States. We cannot offer it in any other region. You may be able to borrow a device with Safer Badgers pre-installed.

You may be able to change the region of your Apple ID to access the US App Store. This process is supported by Apple. Please read the instructions very carefully as there are some irreversible changes made during the process. See Apple Support, Change your Apple ID country or region.

iPhone: Display problems when Larger Text is on

Safer Badgers will not display text and buttons correctly on an iPhone when Larger Text is turned on. To temporarily disable larger text while using Safer Badgers:

  1. Go to: Settings > General > Accessibility > Larger Text.
  2. Turn off Larger Accessibility Sizes.

My status is Not Available and my building access is Denied.

The Safer Badger’s app requires an internet connection. Check your internet connection and open your status card again to refresh your status.

My on-campus test results have not been delivered to my phone

See Safer Badgers – Viewing your Test Results for information and troubleshooting steps.

Additional troubleshooting advice for the app and loaner devices

See Safer Badgers – App Troubleshooting for additional advice in troubleshooting the app.

If you need help troubleshooting a loaner device, see Safer Badgers – Loaner Device Troubleshooting.

Safer Badgers Features & Downloads

Safer Badger App on a smart phone


  • Access campus buildings
    Present your Badger Badge to get building access.
  • COVID-19 proximity notifications
    Find out if you may have been exposed, automatically and anonymously.
  • Talk to a specialist
    Connect with health response teams and health care providers.
  • Test results
    Get tested on campus and privately read your results in hours.

Safer Badgers download available on:

Download on the App Store

Get it on Google Play badge

Safer Badgers is compatible with iOS 11 or later and Android 6 or later.
Please check your app store for updates regularly.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 testing

Find on-campus testing locations and schedule your free COVID-19 test.

COVID-19 Testing

Building access

Learn how to keep current with COVID-19 tests and meet criteria to gain building access.

COVID-19 Building Access [needs link]

Exposure notification

Find out if you may have been exposed, automatically and anonymously.

Exposure Notification [needs link]

Frequently Asked Questions

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What testing results does the Safer Badgers app show me?

The Safer Badgers app shows the result of the rapid saliva test used on the UW–‍Madison campus.

How much does testing cost?

Testing is free.

Who is eligible for testing?

All UW–‍Madison Faculty, staff and students with a NetID are eligible.

Where can I get tested?

Testing locations are forthcoming.

How do I know that Exposure Notification is working?

Your device will tell you when Exposure Notification is running:

  • iPhones will periodically display an alert message reading “Checking for Exposures.”
  • On Android, the notification screen reads “Privacy-preserving contact tracing is currently running.” 

For more information, see Safer Badgers – Exposure Notifications.

What constitutes a "contact" for Exposure Notification?

If you are within 10 feet of someone who’s considered a likely risk for at least 2 continuous hours, you will receive an Exposure Notification.

The automated Exposure Notification feature of Safer Badgers is not a form of contact tracing. We also perform human contact tracing on our campus. Individuals who have a COVID-19 infection are interviewed by public health personnel to find out the names of their recent contacts. Those contacts are then interviewed by the contact tracing personnel and given medical guidance.

Why does Safer Badgers need to access my location?

 iOS and Android require Safer Badgers to ask for location services permissions to use Bluetooth, for Exposure Notification. We are not using any location information in Safer Badgers. Safer Badgers doesn’t store location data, nor does it send it from your device.

Read more in our Privacy Policy at the Safer Badgers website.[Need link]

I don't have a supported Android or iOS device. How can I use Safer Badgers?

We have a limited number of rental phones available to those who don’t have one or who cannot download the app on their phones. For details, please see the Rentals service page.

I've just installed the app and it says my building access is denied. Why is that?

  1. Most users will start in status Red and Building Access Denied until their on-campus test results are delivered. Once you’ve been tested, and your results are available, you’ll receive email from University Health Services stating that your results are ready. The app receives test results about 30 minutes after the email.
  2. Once you receive a negative test result from on-campus testing, and if the results were in the last 4 days, your status changes to Green: Recent negative test and Building Access changes to Allowed
  3. You must have a negative test in the last 4 days to maintain Building Access Allowed status.

For details, see Knowledge base document #107311, Safer Badgers – iOS and Android.

Get a loaner device

Don’t have a smartphone? The DoIT Help Desk will have devices available for loan at no charge to allow current students, staff and faculty who don’t have a smartphone to use the Safer Badgers app.

Request a Safer Badgers loaner device

The limited-use devices will be available to those who need to use the app but do not have access to a smartphone or do not wish to use their personal device. The loaner devices are limited to the Safer Badgers app and website and do not have general phone and app features and functionality like a commercial device.

  • Device checkout began on January 11.
  • Loans are open to current faculty, staff and students who need to be on campus.
  • Loans will be available for the duration of the spring semester.
  • Devices are locked down to access only the Safer Badgers app and Duo.
  • Available to those who don’t have a smartphone or wish not to use their personal device.

If you still have questions about the loaner program, please email or see Get Help from DoIT.

More Information

All updates appear on the COVID-19 Response website.

COVID-19 Response website

FAQs and other information appear on the Safer Badgers website.

Safer Badgers website

Get Help

Get disability-related accommodations

The McBurney Disability Resource Center is the office for students with disabilities & classroom accommodation needs.

McBurney Disability Resource Center

Get help with Safer Badgers

Call us at (608) 262-7777 during the following hours:

Mon-Fri: 7am-8pm
Sat: 7am-5pm
Sun: 8am-5pm

If you have questions, please email:

Still need help?

Contact The DoIT Help Desk