Northeastern introduces at-home COVID-19 test kits for faculty, staff


Marta Hill

As of April 28, there are 77 students in isolation, 35 in quarantine and the seven-day average positive rate is 0.16%, according to Northeastern’s testing dashboard.

Jessica Silverman, managing editor

Northeastern faculty and staff, with the exception of contract employees, will be able to purchase at-home COVID-19 test kits from the university starting in the next coming days, according to a Feb. 16 News@Northeastern article.

The swabs included in the test kit will be processed at the university’s Life Sciences Testing Center. Test kits are available for $40 each, and faculty and staff can purchase the kit for themselves and the members of their household. The university defines a household as anyone who shares a kitchen, bathroom or living space.

The announcement was posted to Twitter and members of the community responded with criticism, questioning why employees had to pay for a test kit as opposed to being provided one for free.

Northeastern Spokesperson Marirose Sartoretto said in a  Feb. 16 email statement to The News that more information about the at-home kits would be shared soon.

To obtain a test kit, faculty must first request one at Cabot Testing Center. Test kits can be purchased online using a credit card and picked up at the help desk within Cabot. Each kit has an individual test swab, barcode and vial for each member of the household.  The swabbing technique follows the same procedure used for COVID-19 tests at Cabot. 

Employees must then return the test kit to Cabot Testing Center within 48 hours of swabbing. An individual cannot be officially diagnosed with the coronavirus from an at-home test. Instead, the tests are meant to indicate if one or more people within the household are infected with the virus. Everyone in the household must get individually tested if the at-home kit produces a positive result. 

Employees can view their results through the same wellness portal used by the university for tests conducted at Cabot Testing Center. The contact tracing team will advise the employee and their family on the proper quarantine procedures if someone in the household tests positive. If this is the case, the employee will be required to quarantine according to the guidelines provided by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and get tested again at the Huntington Testing Center.