COVID-19 testing requirements and procedures

If you live in an MIT residence hall or access other campus buildings, you must be tested regularly for COVID-19 by MIT Medical; there are no exceptions. Covid Pass will tell you when you need to test. If you have been vaccinated, you must continue to test and meet all other requirements.

MIT Medical offers two testing options

  • Unobserved self-testing kits are available at select pick-up locations on campus. Check Covid Pass for locations and times to pick up your kit and drop off your completed test.
  • Observed in-person testing is conducted by MIT Medical staff, no appointment necessary, and is strongly recommended for those new to the testing process. Bring your mobile device with the MIT Atlas app and your MIT ID. Check Covid Pass for available locations and times.

Unobserved self-testing

On or before the day you need to complete your COVID-19 test, pick up a testing kit. You may take up to three kits at a time. Check Covid Pass in your Atlas mobile app for locations and times. The kit is itself a biohazard bag. In it contains: a printed instruction book, a card with a unique barcode, a plastic swab, and a collection tube that has a matching bar code.

Testing kit showing matching barcodes on the vial and enclosed cardOn the day you need to test:

  • Go someplace private.
  • Take the blue cap off the collection tube and discard it, swab as you normally would (taking care not to touch the tip of the swab with your fingers), and then screw the swab into the collection tube. 
  • Place the tube in the ziplock biohazard bag, and return it the same day to one of the collection sites on campus listed in the Atlas mobile app.
  • In the Atlas mobile app:
    • Select Pass, and tap the Medical icon.
    • Tap Take My Test (house icon).
    • Tap I have a kit.
    • Follow the detailed instructions to swab.
    • Allow the Atlas app to use your device's camera to scan the bar code on the card (not the QR code on the manufacturer label), or enter the number manually.
    • Tap Submit my test.
  • Or on the covidpass.mit.edu website:
    • Click Continue to Medical.
    • Click Take My Test (house icon).
    • Click I have a kit.
    • Follow the detailed instructions to swab.
    • Type in the barcode that starts with "D" on your blue card or from the testing tube.
    • Click Submit my test.
  • Attest afterward (ideally, before you come to campus). Remember, it can take up to 30 minutes for your ID to activate after you attest. 

Download a PDF showing illustrated instructions for self-testing.

Observed in-person testing

Observed, in-person testing is available in the MIT Medical trailer between buildings E23 and the Media Lab. Testing is walk-in only; there are no appointments needed. Enter from Amherst Street along the plaza adjacent to Building E25 (Wiesner Building); you do not need to enter MIT Medical (E23).

There is no testing on weekends or Institute holidays unless otherwise announced. In the event the Institute is closed for a weather-related emergency, all observed COVID-19 testing locations also be closed. MIT Medical strongly recommends you successfully perform on-campus observed COVID-19 testing at least once before using unobserved testing.

Bring your MIT ID card, your MIT ID number, or your mobile device with the MIT Atlas app. Wear a face covering.

Regular hours:

  • MIT Medical trailer: Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Medical testing in the trailer is for asymptomatic individuals who are using Covid Pass only. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, do not test in person, even if it is time for your Covid Pass test. Instead, list your symptoms in your Covid Pass attestation, and MIT Medical will contact you shortly.

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ provides information on Covid Pass testing. For more general information on testing, see the Testing for COVID-19 FAQ on the MIT Medical website.

Getting Tested

Q: I have been fully vaccinated. Do I still need to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and go for regular COVID-19 tests?
A: Yes. As a result of changing public health conditions and guidance, the Insitute will not be lifting some of the restrictions that we announced would be lifted July 30. Updated policies can be found on the MIT Now website.

We know that all of the currently approved vaccines are very effective at preventing severe illness, but vaccinated people can still become infected — often developing only mild symptoms or no symptoms at all — and transmit the virus to others. This is even more likely with newer variants of the virus, especially the Delta variant. This means that even if you’re fully vaccinated, you could potentially expose others to the virus, especially those not vaccinated or not yet able to be vaccinated (for example, adolescents under the age of 12). We must do all we can to prevent spread of the virus.

Q: How often must I be tested?
A: MIT community members who regularly access campus, regardless of vaccination status, must be tested either once or twice per week. Covid Pass will tell you when you need to test, and will indicate if your testing frequency changes. You may test on the day you access campus, or any time in the 7 days before accessing campus. You do not need to wait for a negative result before accessing campus.

Q: If I am required to test twice weekly, what schedule should I follow?
A: If you are required to test twice weekly, choose to test on either a Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday schedule.

  • If you test Monday, your next test is due Thursday. The next week, Covid Pass will tell you to test on Monday, and again on Thursday, repeating weekly unless you test on an earlier day or miss your test due date.
  • If you test Tuesday, your next test is due Friday. The next week, Covid Pass will tell you to test on Tuesday, and again on Friday, repeating weekly unless you test on an earlier day or miss your test due date.

After observing a deviation from this pattern, Covid Pass will place you into the next Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday schedule and remind you accordingly. To see sample schedules and examples of how to accommodate a change in schedule or a missed test, see “How to test twice a week in Fall 2021 (PDF).”

For example, if you are following a Monday/Thursday cadence, and you’ll be unable to test on a particular Thursday, you may test on Wednesday instead, then again on Friday. This will place you into the Tuesday/Friday cadence for the following week. To return to your Monday/Thursday cadence, test on Monday.

Similarly, if you are following a Tuesday/Friday cadence and you are unable to test on a particular Tuesday, test on Monday instead, then again on Thursday. To return to your Tuesday/Friday cadence, test again on Tuesday morning.

Q: What happens if there is a holiday on my testing day (or if testing is not available)?
A: In those cases, Covid Pass will indicate that you should test the next available testing day.

Q: How can I keep track of when I need to be tested?
A: Covid Pass will notify you (email and mobile push) about your testing status. The message tells you how long your latest test will remain valid and when you will need to be retested. Get tested before the end of the day on your due date to maintain access to campus buildings. If you do not, access will be suspended until you are tested.

Q: I am physically unable to stand for long periods of time waiting in line for COVID testing. How can I be tested?
A: You may use MIT's self-testing kits, described above. If you prefer or require in-person observed testing, you can request an accommodation and receive documentation you can show to MIT Medical staff to bypass the line.

  • Students: Make your request to MIT Student Disability and Access Services at das-all@mit.edu.
  • Employees: Make your request to MIT Disability Services at hr-dsmlo@mit.edu.

Q: What type of test will be performed?
A: MIT uses a molecular test that detects viral RNA from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness. We use a sampling technique known as an “anterior nares" collection. This is a less invasive and more comfortable procedure for the patient than the “deep nasal swab.”

Test Results

Q: How long does it take to get the result?
A: Results typically come back within one day to two days. Note that MIT's Covid-19 Testing system, policies, and protocols are designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on MIT's campus. If you need to meet any time-dependent domestic or international COVID-related travel requirements (e.g., a negative test result) or similar kinds of requirements, you should consider alternative testing options. We are unable to guarantee specific test turnaround times for any member of the MIT community using our testing program.

Q: How can I get my test results?
A: Results of testing through MIT Medical's Covid Pass locations are available within the Covid Pass application, where you may download a PDF document of your result from MIT's testing provider (Color Genomics). Results from Covid Pass tests will only appear in the app, not in HealthELife, MIT Medical's portal for its patients. Tests done by appointment at MIT Medical – not through Covid Pass – will appear in HealthELife. If you are authorized to receive testing through the Covid Pass program but do not yet have full approval to use Covid Pass for campus access, you may still see your test results at covidpass.mit.edu by using your MIT Kerberos account for authentication. Only you and MIT Medical will have access to your test results, which are protected medical information.

Q: What if I test positive?
A: If you test positive, MIT Medical will contact you directly. If you do not hear from MIT Medical within 48 hours, you can presume your test is negative. If you receive a positive test result, you will be denied access to campus. Access to campus may also be denied for a number of other reasons ranging from contact with an infected individual to having symptoms such as a fever or cough.

Q: How do I report a positive test result received from outside of MIT?
A: If you use Covid Pass or have a Tim Ticket, report your result in your attestation and MIT Medical will contact you. If you use neither application, contact medical@mit.edu.

Q: I was told that I should wait 90 days after having COVID-19 before I test again in Covid Pass. How do I report this to MIT Medical so I won't lose access to buildings despite not testing?

A: There are two ways to report this.

  • If you tested positive within the past 14 days: Simply attest in Covid Pass as you normally would and report that you were positive within the past 14 days. MIT Medical will be in touch and will help with access for when you recover.
  • If you tested positive more than 14 days ago: Email a copy of your positive test to covidteam@med.mit.edu. MIT Medical will then put a "hold" in Covid Pass so you do not need to test for 90 days. The 90-day period is calculated from the date of the test.

Q: My test came back as “invalid.” What does that mean and what should I do?
A: Invalid tests can occur when something goes wrong during sample analysis. It could be anything from a swab that was put into the tube incorrectly to a sticker that smudged and was illegible to the code reader. Invalid tests also tend to happen on colder days when your nose might be running when you collect the sample. To prevent invalid tests, be sure to not use hand sanitizer immediately before touching your test tube, and if your nose is runny, be sure to rub the swab firmly against your nose when you collect the sample.

An invalid test does not mean that you are more likely or less likely to be positive for COVID-19. If you receive an invalid test, be sure to retest on the next available testing day. However, we cannot test individuals twice in the same day.

Q: Can I get a paper document showing my COVID-19 test results?
A: You may download a printable PDF document of your result from the Covid Pass application. To request a physical document of your COVID-19 test result, email MIT Medical's COVID-19 team at covidteam@med.mit.edu.

Q: Will the downloaded PDF test results satisfy travel requirements?
A: The COVID-19 test result information satisfies most airline and governmental requirements. Note that MIT's Covid-19 Testing system, policies, and protocols are designed to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on MIT's campus. If you need to meet any time-dependent domestic or international COVID-related travel requirements (e.g., a negative test result) or similar kinds of requirements, you should consider alternative testing options. We are unable to guarantee specific test turnaround times for any member of the MIT community using our testing program. If you need something in addition to what is available from the Covid Pass application, email MIT Medical's COVID-19 team at covidteam@med.mit.edu. We recommend you contact your airline or the appropriate government agency beforehand to ensure you proof of your status in an acceptable form.

Consent and Authorization

Q: What is the purpose of these agreements?
A: You are being asked to execute two separate agreements: (1) a consent for testing services (the “Consent”) and (2) an authorization to use and disclose health information (the “Authorization”).

The purpose of the Consent is to confirm your agreement to participate in MIT’s routine COVID-19 testing program, which is a condition of your access to the MIT campus, and your understanding that MIT will use your testing information for certain related MIT purposes. The Authorization provides MIT with the right to share your personal and health information (“PHI”) with the Broad Institute (or other testing service as determined by MIT) and to use your PHI for four specific purposes:  (a) to operate and perform MIT’s testing program; (b) to perform contact tracing; (c) to make decisions about your access to campus; and (d) to otherwise protect the health and safety of the MIT community, for example if actions are needed to respond to a positive test for COVID-19 (see below).

Q: As part of MIT’s testing program, what PHI is being shared and with whom?
A: To facilitate the testing services with the Broad (or other testing provider should the need arise), MIT must provide your full name, date of birth, mailing address, and email address. This information is obtained from your personnel record if you are an employee, or through your student records if you are a student. No other PHI is shared with testing providers.

Apart from testing providers, your PHI is not shared with any other third party outside of MIT, but individual test results may be shared with Institute officials with a need to know to protect the health and safety of the MIT campus or to support members of the MIT community (including you) who may be affected by a positive COVID-19 test (see below).

This privacy statement explains how MIT handles and uses the personal information collected as part of MIT's Covid Pass application.

Q: Where and how are my testing results stored?
A:Your testing results are available through the Covid Pass web application and through the Covid Pass feature in MIT Atlas Mobile. Covid Pass uses MIT Touchstone authentication, which requires an MIT Kerberos account and Duo two-factor authentication. Your individual testing data is stored in a secure environment through Amazon Web Services (AWS). This privacy statement explains how MIT handles and uses the personal information collected as part of MIT's Covid Pass application.

Q: In the event I receive a positive test, who will be notified?
If you receive a positive test, MIT Medical will notify you immediately and begin the contact tracing process, which involves notifying people with whom you recently have had close contact – defined as being within 6 feet of a person for a sustained period of at least 15 minutes. If you are a student, the CARE Team will be activated to provide you with support and assistance as needed; the CARE Team will work with you to notify those who may need to know (e.g., instructors, house teams, PIs, etc.). If you are an employee, MIT Medical, with your consent, will notify HR and your supervisor. In some cases MIT may also inform Deans, Department Heads, or other MIT officials that an individual within their area tested positive. In these latter circumstances MIT will not disclose your identity unless you consent or disclosure is necessary to allow these individuals to take appropriate action to protect the MIT community.

Q: How long are my test results maintained in Covid Pass?
A: MIT will retain your test results for a period of one (1) year following the expiration of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Emergency COVID-19 Declaration.

Q: What happens if I revoke my consent and authorization?
A: You have the right to revoke your consent and authorization at any time. However, because routine testing is a requirement to remain on campus at this time, your access to campus will be revoked.

Q: I am a patient at MIT Medical. Is any information from my electronic medical record (EMR) accessed or shared with any third parties?
A: No. As part of MIT’s routine testing program, no information from your MIT Medical EMR is accessed or shared, and your results will only be stored in Covid Pass. If you are someone who has not been cleared to be on campus and are not in the Covid Pass system, but you are tested because you are symptomatic and a regular patient at MIT Medical, this information will be stored in your EMR, not in Covid Pass.

Page updated 9/13/2021