Welcome to the COVID-19 Testing Program Guide

Thank you for partnering with the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and Color to set up COVID-19 testing for your employees and residents.

This program ends Dec 31, 2022. Lab-based tests may be activated through Oct 28, 2022. Rapid tests may be ordered through December 30, 2022, for use in 2022 and 2023.

This guide will cover:

  • Software that manages sample collection, return of results, and result monitoring
  • Regular shipments of COVID-19 test kits and ship-back materials

Site Software

  • In order to register people to get tested and to process their tests, you’ll use Color’s software. Below are the steps you’ll need to take to set up your account and to use the software on testing days.
  • You can also download this pdf for quick set-up instructions.
  • For specific instructions about using rapid tests, see details below.



On testing days your role could cover a number of areas, including registering participants, gathering samples, and shipping samples to the lab. More details about those steps can be found below.


Create your Color account

Head to home.color.com/create-account. Enter your organization email, and set up a password.

We’ll send you an email to confirm your email address once you’ve created your account. After confirming, your account is ready for use. On testing days, you’ll log into our onsite tool with your Color account credentials.


Determine your testing schedule

For staff working on different days, choose two to four testing days within a two-week testing period.

Resident and staff testing should be completed on the same day to return samples in bulk.

Each site is initially provided with a four- or eight-week supply of tests. Your site is responsible for using that supply appropriately. If you run out of test supplies, please contact your organization lead.


Get the technology you’ll need

Color’s software requires internet connectivity via WiFi or cellular service. Please note, if you lose internet connection, you can find instructions on our emergency paper intake process in the Resources section at the bottom of this page. 


If you’re using WiFi-only devices like laptops or tablets, make sure you have strong and reliable WiFi coverage in your testing area.


If your WiFi isn’t reliable, we recommend using portable hotspots from a cellular network provider, like this Verizon Jetpack® MiFi® 8800L


If you’re planning on using cellular devices, like a WiFi + Cellular iPad, be sure to select the appropriate cellular network provider that provides the best coverage for your area, like AT&T or Verizon.

Each site administrator should have their own device. We recommend three devices (and three administrators) for every 250 participants you plan to test per day. We recommend using two devices to register participants in our software and one to scan barcodes as you collect samples. 


iPads must be running iOS 13 or iOS 14. For example, the 10.2” Wi-Fi + Cellular iPad, model MYN32LL/A works well. We recommend you also download the Google Chrome iOS app.


Android tablets must be running Android version 9, 10, or 11 with the latest updates and the latest version of Google Chrome. For example, the Samsung tablets, such as the Galaxy Tab A 8.4” Cellular, work well. 


Laptops should have 1 usable USB-A port if you will be connecting a wired barcode scanner. 


We recommend using the latest version of Google Chrome on your devices.

We highly recommend using scanners to automatically capture barcodes and ensure samples are matched to the correct participants. If scanners are not functional for any reason, or if you don’t have access to scanners, you are able to input the information manually.


If you are using an iPad, we recommend using the ScanKey iOS app which enables usage of the iPad’s camera as the barcode scanner from within the virtual keyboard interface. 

  • To set up ScanKey – Go to the iPad Settings → General → Keyboards and then make sure that only the ScanKey keyboard is there. Delete any other keyboard.
  • If ScanKey does not show up in the App Store, please update your iPad to the latest software.
  • Here are instructions on how to setup ScanKey on your iPad.


If you are using a handheld scanner, the scanner must scan one-dimensional (1D) barcode labels. We recommend using wired USB scanners, because wireless or bluetooth scanners can be difficult to pair and ensure connectivity throughout the day. If you choose a wired USB scanner, you’ll need a Lightning to USB 3 Camera Adapter for iPad, or a USB OTG adapter, like Micro USB or USB-C, for an Android tablet. Adapters may vary between devices.

Be sure to maintain the battery levels your devices throughout testing days to enable continuous usage, and consider charging overnight. iPads will require at least a 12-watt (2.4 amp) USB power adapter. If supporting multiple iPads or other USB-charged devices, we recommend using a multi-port USB charger.

Testing Days

On testing days your role could cover a number of areas, including registering participants, gathering samples and shipping samples to the lab. More details about those steps can be found below. You can also download this PDF outlining the steps.

Encourage staff participants to register for testing using the QR code and link we’ll send via email. Participants will provide consent and contact information, and their profiles will automatically populate as ready for check-in each testing day.

Registering participants

Participants can register one of three ways:

  1. Using a unique URL
    Before testing day we will send the organization lead a unique URL so participants can use it to answer questions ahead of time on their own device.
  1. Using the QR code
    We’ll send the organization lead a QR code. Print the QR code and post it at your collection site so participants can scan it using their own device and answer the registration questions.
  2. Registering onsite
    Site staff can register those who have not done so ahead of time. Use the “Add patient” link on Color and ask participants to answer the registration questions verbally during the sample collection process

We encourage you to advise participants to register using the unique URL or QR code so their profiles are saved and automatically populate as ready for check-in each testing day.

Managing participant samples

  1. Log in to Color at home.color.com/sign-in
  2. Confirm participant information
  3. Scan or type in the participant barcode
  4. Gather the participant’s collected sample
  5. Package the samples and send to the lab, using the shipping instructions in the next section. Samples must ship within 24 hours of sample collection.

How to collect samples

To walk through how to collect samples using Color, watch this video.



Ordering Kits

Starting February 2022, all sites will order test kits and return shipping materials online. The designated contact for each site will get a separate set of credentials to log in to the ALOM ordering portal. Sites can order between one week and one month’s worth of supplies with each order. Please see the FAQ for more information.


Storing and Shipping Test Kits

As a testing site administrator, you’ll need to make sure that test kits are not damaged onsite and are sent to the lab within 56 hours of sample collection.

Individual Test Kits


  1. Swab
  2. Tube 
  3. Small sample biohazard bag
  4. Barcode card

How to Store Test Kits

Unused Kits

Please store unused kits in a secure, shaded area without direct exposure to the sun or heat. The ideal storage temperature is room temperature (72-76 degrees Fahrenheit).

Collected Samples

Please store collected kits in a covered bin in a secure, shaded area without direct exposure to the sun or heat. The ideal storage temperature is room temperature (72-76 degrees Fahrenheit). Packaged kits may be deposited in outdoor FedEx dropboxes in cold outdoor temperatures.

We strongly recommend shipping collected samples to the lab within 24 hours after collection.

Please note: Kits may not be transferred to a different site or used for any purpose other than for sample collection. To ensure specimen samples are not contaminated or damaged and results are accurate, unused kits may not be returned to Color once they are delivered to a collection site. Unused collection kits must be destroyed when the testing program ends. There are specific expiration dates listed on components of the kits. Please destroy any unused, expired kits by placing them in the regular trash.

Packing Samples for Shipping

Return shipping materials are provided to accommodate four shipments for every two-week period. If you require more than four return shipments, note that sites are responsible for procuring the materials (box, biohazard bags, etc.) for any extra shipments. All shipments should follow the instructions below.

Each box must contain a complete manifest document and have a UN 3373 label affixed. The rule of thumb is three layers between the sample and the outside world.

For shipments with 10 or fewer samples, you do not need to use a divider insert.


  1. Tightly seal caps on each sample tube.
  2. Seal each sample in a specimen biohazard bag.
  3. Place up to 10 sealed specimen bags in the large biohazard bag. Close and seal.
  4. Place the biohazard bag inside the return shipping box.
  5. Include the manifest in the box.
  6. Seal the box and adhere the UN3373 label and, if using FedEx, the shipping label.


Click here for step-by-step instructions including images.

For shipments of more than 10 samples, use the cardboard box with the divider insert. 


  1. Tightly seal the caps on each sample tube and place in dividers.
  2. If applicable, replace the absorbent pad. Seal the bag.
  3. Place the biohazard bag and manifest in the box. 
  4. Seal the box and adhere the UN3373 label and, if using FedEx, the shipping label.


Click here for step-by-step instructions including images.

Important: Incorrectly packed samples will not be processed.

Step-by-step packing instructions can be accessed in the dropdowns above, but one example of incorrect sample packing (racking) is shown below. Be sure to follow the instructions closely to ensure your samples are properly processed.

DO NOT individually bag samples that are placed in a racking box. If you do, samples may be discarded. DO NOT send samples un-racked if sending more than 10 samples.

Shipping Samples to the Lab

Shipments will be processed at the Broad Institute, where they process samples 7 days a week. This program includes pre-paid shipping services for up to four shipments every two weeks. Choose your shipping method:

  • Pre-paid FedEx return shipping labels are included in each return packaging shipment.
  • Contact FedEx at 1.800.463.3339 to determine the latest pick-up or drop-off time and requirements for your testing days and location. You can either schedule a pickup or drop off at a local dropbox.
  • Please note, most FedEx locations will not accept biohazard samples, so we suggest using a dropbox.
  • We strongly recommend collecting and shipping samples same-day, Monday-Friday. FedEx does not ship Saturday afternoon–Sunday end of day.

Pre-paid courier service is available–organization leads can email STAT or TForce to arrange service. Let them know you are part of the MA EOHHS/Color program.

  • STAT: color@statdeliveryservice.com

  • TForce: BostonDispatch@tforcefinalmile.com

If your site is close to the Broad, your site may deliver samples directly to the Broad at the address below. Please ensure drivers adhere to state and county regulations for transporting biological materials. This expense will not be reimbursed.

Place packaged samples in a program dropbox.

Berkshire County ARC
46 Elm St

The drop box is adjacent to the main building.


Behavioral Health Network
21 Kenwood Street

The drop box is set up to the right of the back entrance.


Montachusett Veterans
268 Central Street

The drop box is located at the resident entrance of the address, by the vestibule.


Seven Hills Main Office
81 Hope Ave

The drop box is set up in the front entrance of the building. If viewed from the street, it is under the furthest left blue awning along the curb.


DDS Central
324 Clark St (front)

The drop box is set up under the orange awning in front of the building. Follow signs for DDS from the main road.


1671 Worcester Rd, Suite 100

The drop box is located at the entrance of the building facing away from Route 9. It is the first entrance when entering the parking lot. The drop box is next to the blue mailbox.


St. Ann’s Home
100A Haverhill St

The drop box is located in the main entrance to the left of the staircase. The back of the box is against the staircase.


Walker School
162 Fisher Street

The drop box is located through the entrance on Fisher Street, inside the shed.

Shipping address

All samples should be shipped to ProEMS, which will consolidate and deliver to Broad Institute.

Deliveries are accepted 24×7.
31 Smith Pl.
Door 6
Cambridge MA 02138.


Rapid Testing: June 2022 Update

  • Color has sent a one-time shipment of rapid antigen COVID-19 tests to each site. Tests may be used to test symptomatic individuals, people involved in an outbreak, site visitors and/or others in advance of indoor gatherings.
  • If your site is switching to rapid testing only going forward, you are able to order more rapid antigen kits from your ALOM portal.
  • These rapid tests are over the counter (OTC) tests which do not get reported in the Color software.
  • You may direct people who test positive to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/treatments-for-covid-19 and http://mass.gov/covidtelehealth to see if they qualify for treatment.
  • Expiration dates have been extended beyond what is printed on the kits. For the most up to date expiration information for the tests you have, please refer here: https://ihealthlabs.com/pages/news
  • Please reference the EO HHS Congregate Care COVID guidance as needed.