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Testing & Tracing

As Harvard continues to welcome back students, faculty, academic personnel, and staff to our campus, COVID testing will remain a part of the University’s ongoing efforts to track and limit the coronavirus within our community.

All University affiliates who are authorized to be on campus are required to be tested at their assigned cadence. Required testing cadences will be determined by factors including whether you live on or off campus, your vaccination status, and infection rates in the local community.

On July 28 the University shifted to new testing cadences for all affiliates. Each member of the Harvard community can find their testing cadence requirement by logging into Crimson Clear. Affiliates will also receive regular text and email notifications reminding you of your next testing day.

Harvard’s testing plan is subject to modification based on community risk and the broader public health environment. For questions about testing eligibility, contact your School or Unit’s local testing coordinator. For technical questions about creating your Color account, email support@color.com. More information on unobserved PCR testing, setting up a Color account, and administering tests can be found below.

View the latest data on positive cases and total tests

How often to get tested

Vaccinated and living in undergraduate housing

Including faculty and staff.

Upon arrival for the fall semester, test on day of arrival, day 4 or 5 after arrival, and 1 week after arrival.

After three consecutive negative arrival tests, tests will occur once per week.

Unvaccinated and living in undergraduate housing

Including faculty and staff.

Upon arrival for the fall semester, test on day of arrival, day 4 or 5 after arrival, and 1 week after arrival.

After three consecutive negative arrival tests, tests will occur twice per week.

Vaccinated and living in graduate housing

Upon arrival for the fall semester, test on day of arrival, day 4 or 5 after arrival, and 1 week after arrival.

After three consecutive negative arrival tests, tests will occur every other week.

Unvaccinated and living in graduate housing

Upon arrival for the fall semester, test on day of arrival, day 4 or 5 after arrival, and 1 week after arrival.

After three consecutive negative arrival tests, tests will occur once per week.

All other vaccinated students, faculty, and staff with an on-campus presence

Excludes students living on campus. 

Upon resuming on-campus work or activities, test once per week for the first two weeks.

After two negative tests in the first two weeks, test every other week.

All other unvaccinated students, faculty, and staff with an on-campus presence

Excludes students living on campus. 

Tested once per week

View the summer 2021 testing calendar for pick-up dates and times

How do I get tested?

All testing is being done through unobserved self-collection.

Harvard has partnered with Color, a health testing company, to administer the University’s testing procedures, including providing testing kits, managing alerts for regular testing, and delivering test results to individuals.

Once you have been notified that you are now eligible for our testing program, a critical first step in this process is for you to create your Color account. You will need to use your Harvard email account to create your Color account. If you receive an error that your email is not eligible for this COVID-19 testing program or have other questions about your testing eligibility, contact your local testing coordinator. If you have questions about  creating your Color account, please contact: support@color.com.

To learn more about the steps for self-testing, see the training module linked below.

A screenshot of a google maps near Harvard

Drop-off locations

Drop-off bins are available at multiple locations across campus to collect unobserved test samples.

Find a dropoff bin

An illustration of a hand holding a test tube with a test in it

How do I self-swab?

Watch the self-paced training module to learn every step of the process—from creating your Color account to completing the self-swab.

Watch the training

University-wide results

New Positive Cases - Last 7 Days

Community testing resources

While Harvard affiliates who are not currently approved to come to campus are not eligible to participate in the University testing program, other options include the Stop the Spread program (free to Massachusetts residents), the Cambridge Public Health Department program (free to Cambridge residents), Boston COVID-19 testing sites, and many others. Check with your local health department or your primary care physician to learn about other options. Note that most insurance plans only cover testing in the setting of symptoms or known exposure to an infected person.

A swab and a tube

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.

Learn about privacy protection