Harvard Expects On-Campus MBAs To Take COVID Tests Every Three Days

Warm light glows invitingly from inside Harvard Business School on a cold, winter evening..

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School today (July 21) announced that returning MBA students, some faculty, and staff who come to campus and frequently interact with others should expect to be tested for COVID-19 every three days. The self-administered nasal swab tests will be administered every Tuesday at Harvard Stadium, with results available in one to two days.

A positive test will trigger contract tracing and quarantine/isolation requirements, which all members of the community are required to follow, according to HBS Dean Nitin Nohria and Executive Dean for Administration Angela Crispi. “It is important to understand that a negative test does not mean that safety precautions can be ignored,” they wrote. “While a key indicator of personal health, testing also is done to better understand the prevalence of infection in a community and to prevent outbreaks. As you’ve heard many times already, but we’ll repeat it here, personal vigilance and adherence to guidance remain vital, even as testing becomes part of our routine.”

The testing details were in the latest coronavirus update posted by HBS. The university is still waiting for the state government to release state-wide guidelines for higher education. “We hope and expect these will provide additional clarity on issues such as quarantine requirements after travel, events and gatherings, and other aspects of campus life,” added Norhia and Crispi. “We continue to be reminded that flexibility is the watchword of the year and appreciate your patience as we navigate an ever-changing landscape.”


Angela Crispi, Executive Dean for Administration at HBS 

Earlier this month, HBS revealed that it had ruled out an online-only MBA program this fall, deciding to bring all of its MBA students back to campus for a hybrid blend of in-person and online classes. That policy stands in contrast to the university’s plans for undergraduates in which only 40% of undergraduate students will be allowed on campus for the fall semester, making the business school one of only two of Harvard’s 12 degree-granting schools that are moving forward with face-to-face classroom teaching.

But the shift to hybrid learning at the business school will vary from student to student and occur in every possible permutation. Among other things, Harvard Business School plans to reduce the size of its core classes or required curriculum (RC) for first-year students to 72 from 90. So instead of having eight sections of 90 students each in RC classes, Harvard Business School plans to have ten sections of 72 students each to allow for social distancing. Second-year MBA students, meantime, will be able to choose from classes taught entirely online and those offered in a hybrid format. Depending on demand, students in hybrid courses may physically be in class on a rotating basis with some portion of their class taking place remotely.

This latest message makes clear that testing will be an important element of the return to campus.”Come fall, we can expect testing for the on-campus members of our community who interact frequently with others—students, and some faculty and staff—to occur probably every three days,” wrote Nohria and Crispi. “Those who interact less frequently with others will remain on a weekly testing cadence.”


The pair noted that things are looking good for a return to campus.”The seven-day weighted average of positive molecular test rate in Massachusetts is a number we continue to watch; it stands at 1.6% as of 7/19, down 94% since 4/15,” according to the update. “As you’ll recall, maintaining a rate at or below 2% was a condition for the state to continue progressing with its reopening plans. A similarly low rate will be important to sustain within the HBS community and a signal that the appropriate safety precautions—limits on gathering sizes, wearing a face covering, hand washing, and maintaining 6′ of physical distancing—are being met.”

To meet the new testing protocols, Harvard University Health Services is transitioning from baseline viral testing, which began in June, to recurring weekly tests. “Moving forward, anyone—students, faculty, or staff—authorized to be on campus more than four hours per week should plan to incorporate testing into their campus access protocol,” added Nohria and Crispi. “Tests are on Tuesdays in the Harvard Stadium and registration must be completed before midnight on Sunday to secure a slot. The test is self-administered under supervision using a nasal swab and the process typically lasts less than half an hour. Test results are provided within one to two days.”

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