Frequently Asked Questions


Whether you’re a superintendent, a teacher, or a parent—we’re here to help. Navigating the world of COVID-19 testing for your family is no easy task. We’re here to demystify it. Read below for answers to questions from parents and guardians.

Classroom Pooling
  • If a student who has recovered from COVID-19 is in a pool, is there a possibility of that pool coming up as a false positive?

    Yes. We recommend that individuals who have recently tested positive for COVID-19 not be included in pooled testing for at least 3 months post recovery as they may still produce a positive test result.

  • What type of swab is used for the pooled test?

    This is a self-collected anterior nasal (AN) swab. Unlike a nasopharyngeal swab, which reaches deep into the nose to take a sample from the back of the throat, an AN sample is taken from the lower part of the front of the nose , at least half an inch inside the nostril. This method both increases comfort and requires less PPE than nasopharyngeal swabs. Instead of a healthcare provider performing the test, students can easily collect their own samples under teacher supervision.

  • Is the pooled test a molecular test or an antigen test?

    This method of testing uses a molecular test that detects the presence of the viral RNA. In Ginkgo’s lab, we use a molecular test similar to qPCR based on a technology known as next-generation sequencing (NGS), in which a small part of the coronavirus genome is sequenced or “read” to determine whether or not that virus is present in a sample. We are also partnering with and validating PCR labs to run pooled molecular tests.

  • How accurate is this test?

    Molecular tests are highly accurate at detecting the virus that causes COVID-19. In validation studies, our test was able to correctly identify 96% of positive tests detected by the “gold standard” PCR test using a deep nasal swab and 100% of negatives (meaning that there were no false positives).

  • What is the cost for pooled classroom testing?

    We estimate the cost to be about $150 USD per pool of 5-25+ people (~$6 per student in a pool of 25).

  • How do I sign up?

    To bring our testing service to your school, sign up here.

  • Are there any controls to avoid false negatives?

    We have multiple controls in the test process: RNA extraction controls, high and low positive controls using spiked in virus, negative controls, and rt-PCR controls.

  • What is pooled classroom testing?

    Classroom pooling is a testing method where lower nasal swabs from everyone in a class are mixed together and tested with a single molecular test. This gives schools and districts population-level data to make informed public health decisions at a fraction of the cost of individual testing plans.