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.

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Covid Pass testing options, hours, and how-to

Options

MIT Medical offers two testing options for Covid Pass participants:

  • 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.

Hours

Regular hours:

  • Drop-off locations: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m
  • MIT Medical trailer in-person testing: Monday – Friday, 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Holiday hours for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day:

  • Drop-off locations: W20 closed; all other locations open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • MIT Medical trailer in-person testing: open 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

How to test

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.

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.

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.

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: Current policies can be found on the MIT Now website.

Q: How often must I be tested?
A: MIT community members who regularly access campus, regardless of vaccination status, must be tested as directed. In most cases, this is weekly. 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: 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.”

Q: Does MIT provide COVID-19 testing for children living in an MIT residence?
A: Children ages 14 and over living in an MIT residence are eligible for participation in the Covid Pass campus surveillance testing program for asymptomatic individuals. The table below outlines other scenarios for children living in an MIT residence.

COVID-19 testing at MIT Medical for children living in an MIT residence
Type of testing Children < 14 Children 14-17 Adult children 18 or older
Asymptomatic Campus Surveillance
  • Not eligible1
  • Eligible
  • Covid Pass access required
  • No charge
  • Eligible
  • Covid Pass access required
  • No charge
Testing as a result of close contact with a known positive case
  • Eligible for testing by appointment (arranged by contact tracing team)
  • No charge
Symptomatic testing
  • Testing arranged by primary care provider
    • At MIT Medical if MIT PCP
    • Otherwise, testing must be done at PCP's preferred testing facility
  • Billed to health insurance
Asymptomatic other or elective (e.g. before travel)
  • Testing arranged by primary care provider
    • At MIT Medical if MIT PCP
    • Otherwise, testing must be done at PCP's preferred testing facility
  • Not typically covered by insurance; parent or patient is responsible for charges

1 "The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend testing every child. It is important to talk with your pediatrician about whether testing is necessary and if so, what option is best. Testing might be recommended for a child who currently has symptoms of COVID-19 or who was in close contact with someone with COVID-19."

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 for COVID-19 through MIT’s Covid Pass program, the MIT Atlas app and an associated email will immediately direct you to complete a form to provide more detail to MIT Medical’s contact tracing team. Please complete this form as soon as possible. Your prompt response will help the MIT Medical Team determine next steps. Typically, we will follow up with an email containing specific instructions for isolating, unless additional information or actions are required.

If you receive a positive test result through MIT’s Covid Pass program, you will be denied access to non-residential campus buildings. Follow all CDC guidance and Massachusetts guidance for isolating after testing positive for COVID-19.

For further guidance about what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or are a close contact, see this update on the MIT Now site.

Q: How do I report a positive test result received from outside of MIT?
A: If you tested outside of MIT's testing system, you should attest to having a positive test and complete MIT Medical’s Case Information Form. The form will give you instructions on your isolation period. After five full days of isolation, your campus access will be restored, and you should not test for 90 days. You must continue to wear a mask around others, in all settings, for an additional 5 days. If you have had a fever in the last 24 hours, or your symptoms are neither mild nor improving, you must continue to isolate.

For further guidance about what to do if you have COVID-19 symptoms, test positive, or are a close contact, see this update on the MIT Now site.

Q: In the event I receive a positive test, who will be notified?
A: In the past, positive cases have triggered notifications to relevant supervisors, advisors, instructors, and/or academic leaders, without sharing the identity of the person testing positive. This practice has changed. MIT teams will reach out only if these individuals need to take specific actions in response to a positive case. With this change, we aim to focus attention only on situations requiring follow-up. As necessary, individuals who test positive may contact their supervisors and/or HR managers (for employees), or advisors, instructors, and PIs (for students), as is true for other health-related absences.

In cases where MIT needs to inform a supervisor, advisor, instructor, HRO, Dean, Department Head, or other MIT official that an individual within their area tested positive, 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: 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: Simply attest in Covid Pass as you normally would and report that you were positive. If you were not tested at MIT Medical, 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, or if a test kit was not dropped off in time. 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: 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 covidapps-help@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: 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 1/18/2022