Important Update on COVID-19 Testing Protocols

Dear Students, Staff and Faculty,

I am writing to update you on some changes the Broad Institute (our COVID-19 testing lab) has made in their testing protocols. Please review this letter carefully so that you have all the information necessary to understand the test results from the Broad and how the results are displayed in CoVerified

The Broad recently adjusted the sensitivity of their lab tests to detect the presence of COVID-19 variants. The changes they made led to new reporting protocols that, in turn, require us to implement new isolation/quarantine protocols. The Broad worked with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to establish their new protocols, and we collaborated with the Connecticut Department of Public Health to change ours. 

The PCR COVID-19 test is highly sensitive and can detect very small amounts of the virus. When processing tests, the Broad lab is looking for evidence of active and transmissible disease. With this new testing sensitivity, they have updated the threshold level for determining a “positive” test result. Tests below the positive threshold that detect some level of the virus will now be reported as “inconclusive.” Given the risk that an inconclusive result can represent active infection, the College will treat an inconclusive result as positive pending a second test. 

What this means is that if the Broad Institute labels your test result inconclusive, you will need to isolate until you get tested again within the next day or two. You will receive a call from the College’s doctor about your inconclusive test result and instructed to isolate. You will then need to participate in contact tracing and identify any close contacts who will also need to quarantine. If your follow-up test comes back positive, you will remain in isolation and your close contacts will stay in quarantine for the prescribed amount of time. If your second test result is negative, you and your close contacts will be able to return to normal engagement on campus and in the community. 

The Broad’s new “inconclusive” terminology may cause some confusion with terminology currently used by the CoVerified app. Over the last year, CoVerified (a Broad Institute partner) has used the  term “inconclusive” to define tests that come back from the Broad as “invalid” or “TNP” (Test Not Processed), which is different from what the Broad is now labeling inconclusive. To ensure consistency with  the Broad’s new terminology, CoVerified is making changes to their platform to be sure that the term inconclusive is used in the same way. These changes will take approximately two weeks to complete. 

During this transition period, the CoVerified app will continue to use the term inconclusive to describe a test that is not positive or negative. Therefore, you will need to go to the Broad’s test result document (PDF) to check to see if your test result is actually inconclusive, invalid or TNP. You can access this PDF by following these steps: 

  1. Open the CoVerified app and touch the testing icon at the bottom of the screen.

  2. Touch the dark blue clipboard icon in the top right hand corner of the screen.

  3. Select the test day you are interested in. 

  4. At the bottom of the screen touch the blue circle with a paper icon. This opens the Broad test result PDF. 

  5. Towards the top of the page under the bold text “Source: AN SWAB” you will see the result of your test–positive, negative, inconclusive, invalid or TNP. 

Each of the terms is defined below and includes instructions on what you need to do.  

  • If you receive an invalid test result, this can mean that no nucleic acids (viral or human) were detected or that the result otherwise did not meet the Broad’s quality control specifications. The College asks you to schedule another appointment to take the test on the next available day. If you are testing only once a week, we recommend that you be tested again in that same week. You DO NOT need to isolate or quarantine. 

  • If you receive a TNP (Test Not Processed) test result, this means your sample was not processed by the lab because an error occurred in the collection of the sample, which could include not fully blowing your nose or not inserting your swab in the vial the right way. The College asks you to schedule another appointment to take the test on the next available day and please be mindful to follow all the steps when you take your next test. If you are testing only once a week, we recommend that you be tested again in that same week. You DO NOT need to isolate or quarantine. 

  • If you receive an inconclusive test result, some virus was detected in your sample but it did not meet the positive threshold. The College will contact you and direct you to get retested at the Testing Center and to temporarily isolate until we receive a conclusive (positive or negative) result from the Broad. 

When CoVerfied completes the changes to their platform, it will show the labels listed above so that you do not have to refer to the PDF.  

I recognize that this may be confusing and I appreciate your patience as these changes are implemented. Please be assured that if you need to isolate because your test result came back positive or inconclusive, you will receive a phone call from the College doctor who will provide guidance and answer any questions you may have.

Please feel free to email with any additional questions.


Sarah Cardwell
Senior Associate Dean for Student Life