COVID-19 testing

Covid testing for symptomatic MIT community members

MIT community members who have reported experiencing COVID-19 symptoms using the Pass feature in the MIT Atlas app (or on covidpass.mit.edu) are eligible to take a free, MIT-provided PCR test. (See below for other options, including off-campus testing.)

How to test

If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and wish to test at MIT:

  1. Report your symptoms using the Pass feature in the MIT Atlas app (or on covidpass.mit.edu). Note: Reporting symptoms will suspend your ability to access locked doors on campus using your MIT ID, except for residence halls, until a negative test result is received or, if you test positive, until you clear 5 days of isolation per CDC guidelines.
  2. Visit the Building E25 atrium to pick up a test kit. Kits are available at drop-off or via the self-service vending machine. (Note this is the only campus vending machine that will contain PCR tests.) Due to a limited supply, please only take or dispense one kit.
  3. Please swab in a private space. Follow the directions in the MIT Atlas app to scan and submit your test. These detailed instructions for use (PDF) are included in each kit.
  4. Drop off your completed test by 5 p.m. in the drop-off box in the E25 atrium. Drop-off hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m, except on Institute holidays. If no drop-off box is present, no tests are being accepted at that time. Please only leave completed tests in the drop-off box.

Testing tips:

  • If your nose is runny, be sure to rub the swab firmly against your nose when you collect the sample.
  • Return the test the same day you collect and scan it.

What if I want to take a Covid-19 PCR test and I'm not symptomatic?
MIT only provides testing for symptomatic individuals. Instead, contact your personal health care provider. See below for additional information about other local and easy testing options.

How long will it take to get my results?
Typically results are available in the MIT Atlas app within 24 to 48 hours.

What happens if I submit a completed test but have not attested to symptoms?
If you place a test kit in the drop box without registering it in the MIT Atlas app, your test will be discarded.

How do I report a positive test result received from outside of MIT?
In the MIT Atlas mobile application, tap Pass, then “I need to report…,” then “Report Positive Covid Result.” Enter the date and type of results, then tap Submit. Covid Pass will give you instructions on next steps.

Can I use the PCR test to confirm that I’m no longer positive?
No. A Covid-19 PCR is sensitive enough to see trace elements of the virus for up to 90 days, even if you are no longer contagious.

What if I test positive?
If you test positive for COVID-19 through MIT’s Covid Pass program, the MIT Atlas mobile app and an associated email will notify you. If you tested outside of MIT's testing system, you should report your positive test using the Pass feature in the MIT Atlas mobile app. The MIT Atlas app will provide information on next steps.

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.

I tested positive at home using a rapid test. Do I need to take a PCR test to confirm my positive result?
No. You should assume you are positive and take appropriate steps to keep yourself and others healthy.

My test came back as “invalid.” What does that mean and what should I do?
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.

Does MIT provide COVID-19 testing for children living in an MIT residence?
Children ages 14 and over living in an MIT residence are eligible for participation in the Covid Pass campus testing program for symptomatic individuals. There is no charge for Covid Pass testing.

Testing for children under age 14 who are symptomatic should be arranged by their personal health care provider.

Off-campus COVID-19 testing options

US residents may find off-campus antigen and PCR Covid testing options on the Department of Health and Human Services website. Massachusetts residents can find PCR testing locations, including sites that offer free testing, on the state's Find a COVID-19 Test webpage.

If you test positive using an at-home test or a non-MIT test provider, be sure to report your positive result using the Pass feature in the MIT Atlas app (or on covidpass.mit.edu).

Information for MIT students

We recommend that each student bring 6–8 rapid antigen testing kits prior to coming to campus and have a supply on-hand throughout the semester.

Students enrolled in the MIT Student Health Insurance Plan (MIT SHIP), can get test kits at no cost. Visit Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts for more information.

Students enrolled in a different insurance plan should consult their plan's website to find out if free tests are available.

Free tests may also be available through the federal government using the www.covid.gov/tests website. 

In addition, tests are available at the many local pharmacies within walking distance of campus, or via Capsule, a pharmacy service offering free, same-day delivery. MIT Medical does not carry rapid antigen tests.

Consent and Authorization FAQ

Q: What is the purpose of the agreements acknowledged in Covid Pass?
A: When you enroll in Covid Pass, you are 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 optional COVID-19 testing program, and your understanding that if you do participate in the testing, 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 certain outside clinical laboratories for COVID-19 testing 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 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 a designated clinical laboratory, 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 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: Participation in MIT's testing is voluntary and you have the option to discontinue at any time.

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 2/1/2023