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Approaches for COVID-19 testing have varied across the Ivy League for the spring 2021 semester.

Credit: Kylie Cooper

As six out of eight Ivy League institutions welcomed some — if not all — of their students to campus for the spring 2021 semester, students have been required to follow campus safety and testing regulations.

From partnering with research organizations to administering symptom tracking and COVID-19 testing, Ivy League institutions have worked to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a variety of ways. Here’s how each of the eight institutions have handled the pandemic throughout the spring semester, amid rising and falling positivity rates on campus.

Brown University

Brown University invited all undergraduate students back to campus this semester under its "Healthy Brown" COVID-19 response program, prioritizing first years to live in single rooms or with suitemates in residence halls. Graduate students who are on campus three or more days a week or have regular contact with students as well as faculty and staff are are required to record their health conditions daily and be tested twice per week. All other members of the Brown community are tested once per week.

Brown provides a web-based screening survey and free asymptomatic testing at the University's three testing sites through a partnership with the third-party research organization Verily. Community members perform a self-administered nasal swab with the guidance of clinical personnel.

Students with COVID-19 symptoms are tested through Brown's University Health Services, while symptomatic employees must contact their personal medical providers. If a student tests positive, they must go through a contact tracing interview and are instructed to isolate from others.

Since it began collecting data on Aug. 24, 2020, Brown has reported completing 278,008 asymptomatic tests, having 433 total cases, and a 4.1% prevalence rate. In the last seven days, the University has reported 20 confirmed positive cases from 14,907 asymptomatic tests, and a 0.1% positivity rate. 

Columbia University

Columbia University welcomed College and Engineering seniors, juniors pending housing capacity, and students approved for housing exceptions to live on campus for the spring semester. The decision was made on the condition that students follow the University’s policies and Health Compact, take a COVID-19 safety course, self-quarantine if required, test for COVID-19 biweekly, and check symptoms daily. 

The University has conducted a total of 175,039 tests since June 22, 2020, with 704 being positive. During the week of March 1, the University reported 21 positive tests from 7,052 total conducted tests, with 36 students in isolation, 69 in quarantine, and two hospitalized.

Cornell University

Cornell University's Student Behavioral Compact requires students to complete a daily health assessments and meet surveillance testing requirements, as well as follow general public safety guidelines. Along with faculty and staff, students are required to test anywhere from one to three times per week on designated days depending on their status, place of residence, and time spent on campus.

Supplemental testing is also available to any member of the Cornell community to increase access to testing on an as-needed basis. Symptomatic testing for students is provided by Cornell Health and for staff and faculty by Cayuga Health System.

The University reported 42 positive tests during the week of March 1 to March 7, resulting in a 0.11% positivity rate.

Dartmouth College

Under its "Dartmouth Together" motto, Dartmouth College requires its returning students to participate in pre-arrival testing and arrival testing and quarantine, and be tested three times during the week of arrival and biweekly throughout the term.

To access campus buildings, students and employees must take their temperature by using one of 32 non-contact infrared thermometers installed across the College's walls and complete daily self-assessments.

Since July 1, 2020, Dartmouth has reported performing 140,924 tests among students, faculty, and staff, 302 of which have resulted in positive cases. There are currently 75 active cases among students and 3 among faculty and staff. 

During the week of Feb. 28, there were 50 positive tests out of 8,646 total tests, resulting in a 0.58% positivity rate. On Feb. 23, Dartmouth identified a number of clusters of students that had related spread of COVID-19, which New Hampshire identified as an outbreak.

Harvard University

Under the Harvard University's "Keep Harvard Healthy" goal, students must get tested immediately upon arrival on campus and quarantine until the third negative result, and can only visit the dining hall to pick up “to-go” food or walk near their residence for no longer than 30 minutes. 

Along with completing daily symptom checks via the Crimson Clear program, students, staff, and faculty must get tested three times per week if they live in on-campus housing, and two if they live off-campus but are required to be on campus more than once a week. Students living off campus but working or studying on campus only once a week, as well as staff and faculty working on campus more than four hours a week, must get tested once a week.

Harvard has partnered with The Broad Institute and Color health testing company to provide testing kits, manage alerts for regular testing, and deliver test results to individuals.

Since June 1, the University has reported completing 427,611 tests with 768 COVID-19-positive results — 59 among undergraduates and 497 among faculty, staff, and other affiliates — and a 0.06% positivity rate in the last seven days.

Princeton University

The University's "Staying Safe at Princeton" program requires that students appear on campus to get at least two of their first tests at the Testing Clinic. After their first tests, students are required to drop off a scanned testing kit biweekly in one of 31 dropbox locations on campus.

For the week of March 1 into March 8, Princeton reported five positive cases out of 11,889 tests.

University of Pennsylvania

Credit: Max Mester

Penn President Amy Gutmann speaks with nurses outside one of the school's several testing sites.

At Penn, undergraduate and graduate students living on campus must get tested twice per week on pre-assigned days, and students who appear on campus each week are required to be tested once a week. Students, faculty, and staff on campus must also report symptoms daily through the University's PennOpenn Pass program.

The Penn Cares public-health response, made in partnership with Penn Medicine for the spring 2021 semester, includes a gateway testing and screening program, which analyzes saliva samples to monitor transmission rates among the University population. Symptomatic individuals, those who test positive in screening tests, and their close contacts are tested using nasal swabs.

For the week of Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, Penn reported a 0.42% positivity rate after 56 members of the University community tested positive out of 17,000 total tests. As of Feb. 27, 181 students were in isolation and 607 were in quarantine.

Yale University

Before arriving on Yale University's campus, all students, faculty, and staff must complete COVID-19 safety training on Canvas. Once on campus, members of the University community must monitor their symptoms daily via Yale's Daily Health Check program and follow the COVID-19 screening program, consisting of free viral self-scheduled biweekly testing and contact tracing.

Students who test positive are required to quarantine in mandatory isolation housing if living in on-campus residential houses, or in their off-campus residence until released by Yale Health. Students with positive tests are referred to contact tracing interviews to detect and isolate their close contacts in on-campus designated housing or off-campus residences.

In the last seven days, Yale has conducted 9,767 tests, 11 of which resulted in positive cases.