COVID-19 Testing and Tracing: Data Collection and Privacy

As the University takes incremental steps toward returning faculty, staff, and students to campus, diagnostic testing and contact tracing will play a critical role in reducing the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks and individual infections. To support University efforts to protect the health and safety of the community, testing and tracing require that data be collected from faculty, students, and staff returning to campus.

All data collected will be used only for the specific purpose of ensuring compliance with return to campus protocols and managing the health of the Harvard community. Any further use of data will be subject to future authorizations that conform to University policies and protocols on access to electronic information.

The University is committed to transparency in its COVID-19 testing and tracing practices. This page is designed to offer a summary of the data that will be collected, how data will be used, and what the University is doing to protect the privacy of community members.

View chart of all testing and tracing data collection [PDF]

Thumbnail of COVID privacy chart

This page will be continually updated as new information becomes available.

Frequently Asked Questions

What data are we collecting, and for what purpose?

The University’s testing and tracing practices require the collection of a variety of different datasets, including, but not limited to, location data, COVID-19 testing data, and training compliance data.

All data collected will be used only for the specific purpose of ensuring compliance with return to campus protocols and managing the health of the Harvard community. Any further use of data will be subject to future authorizations that conform to University policies and protocols on access to electronic information.

View full chart for more details.

How is the data being collected?

Data is being collected through several systems and processes utilized in testing and tracing practices. View full chart for more details.

Who can access the data?

Any medical data, including personally identifiable test results, will be accessible only to Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) and their explicitly authorized designees, in accordance with privacy and compliance policies. Other non-medical data is accessible for the express purpose of managing return to campus processes by medical and administrative leaders with direct responsibility for these tasks. View full chart for more details.

How is the data protected, and how long is it retained?

Data will be stored by Harvard University Information Technology (HUIT) on systems that comply with the requirements for “Level 4 Data” under the Harvard University Information Policy. Disclosures to HUHS will be made by secure file transfer and will be stored securely at HUHS, also in accordance with Level 4 data requirements. View full chart for details of data retention.