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The Safer at School Early Alert System (SASEA) is a project from UC San Diego that began in late 2020. The project was inspired by the wastewater monitoring occurring on the UC San Diego campus in the Return to Learn program. This program analyzed wastewater samples from closed sewer systems from most academic buildings and dorms on campus and looked for small traces of the COVID-19 virus. This was possible because traces of the virus can exit through the digestive process and end up in the wastewater. This project was replicated across thirty K-8 schools in San Diego County, from Vista to San Ysidro, and provided wastewater results to those schools for the Fall 2020 to Spring 2022 school years. In late 2022, SASEA ceased to conduct wastewater monitoring in partner schools (see below) and is focused on providing other COVID-19 resources to San Diego schools. 

Does it work?

Yes. Our data shows that wastewater monitoring can can alert school communities of asymptomatic cases on campus with 95 percent accuracy.

What is SASEA doing now?

In 2022, we created, a community resource hub where parents can find information about testing, vaccines, and county-level wastewater monitoring.

Our main feature is the home page map, which indicates region-specific county wastewater levels and corresponding risk tiers. The risk tier provides neighborhood level information on COVID-19 risk levels, and suggests fun and safe activities. The map will also direct you to COVID-19 testing locations closest to your selected region.

We also provide an up-to-date region-specific COVID-19 risk calculator to assess the risk of parties and other gatherings of children based on the latest case rate for children ages 0-19 published by San Diego County.

Who funded SASEA?

From 2020 to 2022, SASEA was funded by the County of San Diego Health and Human Services Agency. In 2022, SASEA received funding from the National Institutes of Health as part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program.

How can I learn more?

Visit for more information about the program, frequently asked questions, and for age-appropriate graphics that explain waste water monitoring to children.