COVID-19 testing requirements and procedures

If you live in an MIT residence hall or access other campus buildings, you must be tested for COVID-19 by MIT Medical; there are no exceptions. If you have been vaccinated, you must continue to test and meet all other requirements. Testing frequency depends on how often you are on campus; Covid Pass will notify you (by email and mobile push) about your testing status every day and will let you know when you need to be retested.

Getting your Covid Pass medical test

Before you go: Check Covid Pass to see the current estimated wait time.
Bring: Your MIT ID card, your MIT ID number, or the COVID Pass app on your phone. Wear a face covering and maintain six-feet of physical distance from others who are waiting.

There are two testing locations available; you may use whichever is most convenient for you on your testing day. Both are walk-in only; no appointments. There is no testing on weekends or Institute holidays unless otherwise announced. In the event the Institute is closed for a weather-related emergency, the COVID-19 testing locations at MIT Medical and the Johnson Athletic Center will also be closed.

Regular hours:

  • Johnson Athletic Center (W34): Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
  • MIT Medical trailer: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., located in the large trailer between buildings E23 and the Media Lab. Enter from Amherst Street along the plaza adjacent to Building E15 (Wiesner Building); you do not need to enter MIT Medical (E23).

Medical testing in Johnson (W34) and the trailer is for asymptomatic individuals who are using Covid Pass only. If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to Johnson or the trailer to be tested, 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.

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

Testing requirements after out-of-state travel

MIT community members who have traveled outside of Massachusetts for more than 24 hours and who reside or work on campus must be tested for COVID-19 immediately upon their return in accordance with MIT travel policy. Visit the MIT Now site for detailed travel policy guidance.

Frequently Asked Questions

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, you do. While we know the vaccine is very effective at preventing severe illness, we still don't know to what extent vaccinated people can transmit the virus to others. Even after you’ve been vaccinated, you could potentially become an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier and unwittingly expose others to the virus. Until enough of the population is fully vaccinated, we must do all we can to prevent the spread of the virus by continuing to wear masks, keep our distance, and monitor community spread with regular testing. At MIT, testing and daily attestations will continue to be required to access campus, regardless of your vaccination status.

Q: How often must I be tested?
A: Testing frequency depends on how often you are on campus.

If you:

  • Live in an MIT residence hall — you must be tested twice weekly.
  • Are enrolled in classes with in-person instruction – you must be tested twice weekly.
  • Are on campus 4 days a week or more — you must be tested twice weekly.
  • Are on campus 1–3 days a week — you must be tested once a week.
  • Are on campus only once in a while — you will need to be tested within 7 days before accessing campus. If you have not had a test for 14 days, you will be required to have a negative test result (not just a test) before accessing campus. You won’t be able to access campus without being tested, so plan ahead.

Q: If I must get tested twice a week, how does the Covid Pass app determine my testing dates?
A: Covid Pass will place residents, students taking in-person classes, and individuals who access campus 4 or more times a week into a Monday-Thursday or Tuesday-Friday schedule (see How to test twice a week in Fall 2020 with example schedules for the rest of the fall semester).

  • 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.

Q: What happens to my twice-weekly schedule if I test earlier than the date Covid Pass lists?
A: If you test earlier, then Covid Pass will give you the next Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday schedule.

Q: What happens to my twice-weekly schedule if I test later than the date Covid Pass lists?
A: If you test later, you may lose access to campus until you test again. The day you test will then determine your future cadence, which will be Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday.

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. The day you test will then determine your future cadence, which will be Monday/Thursday or Tuesday/Friday for those on a twice-weekly schedule.

Q: If I must be tested only once a week, which day is best?
A: Wednesdays are recommended for once-weekly testing, although you may choose any day that suits you.

Q: I haven’t visited campus in a while. When must I fulfill testing requirements to get back in?
A: If your last time on campus was more than 14 days ago, you will need to produce a negative test result before being granted access. Plan to go in for your test at least 48 hours before you need to access campus buildings, to allow time for your results to be processed. Access will be granted when a negative test result is returned, provided you have also met all other requirements.

If your last time on campus was within the past 14 days, get tested the day before you need to enter campus buildings. Access will be granted while your results are pending, provided you have also met all other requirements.

Q: I have an irregular campus access schedule. Some weeks I will be on campus four or more days, others I will be on campus only one, two, or three days. What does my testing schedule look like?
A: Weeks when you access campus four or more days require you to be tested twice a week, either on Monday and Thursday or on Tuesday and Friday. Weeks when you access campus three or fewer days require you to be tested once. For those weeks you only need to test once, it is recommended you be tested on whichever day corresponds to your preferred twice-a-week schedule. This will allow you to maintain a regular testing cadence.

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 early each morning. 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 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.

Q: How can I get my test results?
A: Your test results will be available in the COVID Pass app. Results from Covid Pass tests will only appear in the app, not in HealthELife. Tests done by appointment at MIT Medical – not in the trailer – will appear in HealthELife. If you do not yet have full authorization to use the Covid Pass app, 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: 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 cotton-swab tip that was put into the tube upside-down to a bar code sticker that smudged and was illegible to the bar 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 the 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 return for a 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: To request a physical document of your COVID-19 test result, call MIT Medical's COVID-19 hotline at 617-253-4865.

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).

Q: Where and how are my testing results stored?
A:Your testing results are available through the Covid Pass app on MIT Atlas. As you are aware, the Covid Pass application requires authentication with your Kerberos ID through a MIT certificate. Your individual testing data is stored in a secure environment through Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is accessible only to you, MIT Medical, and the IS&T COVID operations team.

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 have been previously tested and did not execute these agreements. Why am I being asked to do so now?
A: These agreements are based upon templates recently provided by the Broad Institute. MIT was one of the first institutions to work with the Broad for testing services, and as a result, did not receive these forms when MIT launched the voluntary research ramp up. Now that these forms are available, MIT has incorporated these forms into the revised version of Covid Pass for the entire MIT community. While the prior tests did not require these forms, there has been no change in MIT’s testing program and the information reflected in these forms is consistent with MIT’s entire testing program.

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 5/5/2021