College Testing

Massachusetts College Testing Update October 26, 2020

Over the past three weeks, there has been little change concerning college testing.  Higher education institutions in Massachusetts continue to perform widespread testing and well outperform the state as a whole in terms of test positivity and case rates. Table 1 summarizes the testing statistics to date for the twelve Boston area institutions on which I’ve been focusing, as well as UMass Amherst .  Cumulative test positivity remains very low, with only Boston College above 0.2%.

Table 1: Greater Boston Area College Covid Testing
Cumulative Testing Results
October 25, 2020
  Results As Of Total Positive Positive
College/University Date Date Tests Tests Rate %
Babson 5-Aug 23-Oct 24,360 17 0.07%
Bentley 17-Aug 22-Oct 31,695 55 0.17%
Boston College 16-Aug 22-Oct 69,753 229 0.33%
Boston University 27-Jul 24-Oct 282,996 214 0.08%
Brandeis 12-Aug 22-Oct 53,051 16 0.03%
Emerson 6-Aug 22-Oct 32,157 26 0.08%
Harvard  1-Jun 24-Oct 140,731 80 0.06%
MIT 16-Aug 24-Oct 140,251 67 0.05%
Northeastern 17-Aug 23-Oct 298,848 150 0.05%
Suffolk 18-Sep 22-Oct 22,903 35 0.15%
Tufts 3-Aug 23-Oct 120,104 44 0.04%
UMass Amherst 6-Aug 23-Oct 108,097 157 0.15%
Wellesley 16-Aug 24-Oct 30,379 2 0.01%
Total     1,355,325 1092 0.08%


Table 2 shows testing statistics for the past week.  There have been very small outbreaks at Bentley College and Suffolk University, but the number of cases remain small.  Boston-area colleges are in very good shape.

Table 2: Greater Boston Area College Covid Testing
Latest Weekly Results
October 25, 2020
    Average Weekly  
  As Of Daily Positive Positive Test
College/University Date Tests Tests Percent
Babson 23-Oct 339 4 0.17%
Bentley 22-Oct 623 15 0.34%
Boston College 22-Oct 1,095 11 0.14%
Boston University 24-Oct 4,504 45 0.14%
Brandeis 22-Oct 642 2 0.04%
Emerson 22-Oct 497 4 0.12%
Harvard  24-Oct 2,439 7 0.04%
MIT 24-Oct 2,362 8 0.05%
Northeastern 23-Oct 4,681 18 0.05%
Suffolk 22-Oct 454 12 0.38%
Tufts 23-Oct 2,143 2 0.01%
UMass Amherst 23-Oct 1,764 5 0.04%
Wellesley 24-Oct 487 1 0.03%
Total   22,029 134 0.09%


Higher educational testing accounts for almost half of all testing in the state.  Test positivity rates are very low in higher education (both the cumulative rate and the rate over the past week are 0.09%).  As Figure 1 indicates, this means that test positivity outside of higher education is substantially higher than the “all test” positivity rate that the state highlights in the daily dashboard.  Even as the overall test positivity rate began to increase in late September, higher education test positivity rates remained low and steady. Outside of higher education, positivity rates are now about 2.5%. In addition, since August 15, only about 4% of all confirmed Covid cases in Massachusetts are associated with higher educational institutions.



3 replies on “Massachusetts College Testing Update October 26, 2020”

So, college students’ test results are actually :lowering: the state average, is what what you’re saying. lol

Yes, and that has been the case since they’ve been back. It isn’t just students, although the vast majority of the testing has been students. It is also faculty and staff. So, the rapid increase in cases is in the community at large.

We need better coverage in the media of how well the colleges are managing the outbreaks and the lessons for other congregate living situations. News outlets sure liked to report on the impending doom before school started. I don’t think there is direct connection to k-12 because coming and going is still a community issue but perhaps it can help with other situations

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