Regular COVID-19 testing is a key part of Harvard’s collective efforts to track the presence of the virus in our community, reduce the risk of transmission, and ensure that the safety protocols we’ve established are meeting their intended goals. The University’s testing plan is subject to modification based on community risk and the broader public health environment.
All Harvard affiliates with any on-campus presence are required to test at their assigned cadence. Testing cadences are determined by several factors, including your vaccination status, whether you live on or off campus, and infection rates in the local community.
If you’re away from campus for the winter recess, you can disregard your Color notifications and resume testing upon your return. If you are currently outside of the Boston/Cambridge area, get tested prior to your return travel to ensure you are not putting others at risk of infection while in transit. See the cadences below for your return.
Questions? Your local testing coordinator is your primary point of contact for logistics around accessing testing. If you have clinical or policy questions about testing, you should contact Harvard University Health Services at email@example.com.
To request a testing accommodation, employees should contact firstname.lastname@example.org or your local HR; students should contact your School’s local student disability coordinator.
3. To learn more about the steps for self-testing, see the training module “How do I self-swab?” linked below.
Where do I pick up my test kits?
You may have access to a local supply of test kits in your department, unit, or residence.
Staff, faculty, and researchers: check with your supervisor.
Students: check with your tutor/proctor/resident advisor, or unit or property manager.
You can also check with your School or Unit’s local testing coordinator for test kit pick-up locations.
Anyone living in on-campus undergraduate housing (vaccinated)
Anyone living in on-campus undergraduate housing (unvaccinated)
Undergraduates living off-campus (vaccinated)
Undergraduates living off-campus (unvaccinated)
Graduate students (vaccinated)
Graduate students (unvaccinated)
Faculty, staff, and researchers with a regular on-campus presence (vaccinated)
Faculty, staff, and researchers with a regular on-campus presence (unvaccinated)
Faculty, staff, and researchers with an infrequent on-campus presence less than once per week (vaccinated)
Faculty, staff, and researchers with an infrequent on-campus presence less than once per week (unvaccinated)
Drop-off bins are available at multiple locations across campus to collect unobserved test samples. View the map and click or tap into each location to see last pick-up times. Test kits must only be returned to the designated drop boxes by the individual who tested; they should not be passed onto others or aggregated for group drop-offs.
COVID-19 Testing and Tracing
Harvard’s testing program utilizes reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests analyzed by the Harvard University Clinical Laboratory and the Broad Institute’s Clinical Research Sequencing Platform.
If you need to show proof of a negative PCR test (e.g. to fulfill a travel requirement), you can download your complete clinical report from the results page in your Color account.
COVID-19 Testing and Tracing
Data collection and privacy
Learn what data will be collected, how data will be used, and what the University is doing to protect your privacy.
How else can I get tested?
If you’re not eligible to participate in Harvard’s testing program, other local testing options include the Stop the Spread program (free to Massachusetts residents), the Cambridge Public Health Department program (free to people who live or work in Cambridge), and Boston COVID-19 testing sites. Check with your local health department or your primary care physician to learn about other options.
If you’re traveling internationally, carefully research your destinations’ requirements for entry (e.g. testing, vaccination, quarantine, etc.)—which are changing on short notice. You also need to research the availability and cost of testing in your destination to ensure you can comply with U.S. re-entry requirements.
Note that most insurance plans only cover testing if you have symptoms or known exposure to an infected person.