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.
Our pooled test was developed specifically for K-12 schools. We also provide testing for colleges, corporations, senior living facilities, and more. If you have questions about whether Concentric is a good fit for your school or organization, contact us.
Ginkgo Bioworks is a company that uses the most advanced technology on the planet — biology — to solve problems. Understanding how biology works allows us to do all kinds of things: provide COVID-19 tests for millions of people; clean polluted wastewater; improve vaccine manufacturing; and so much more! Concentric is our way of using what we know about biology to help communities during the pandemic.
Concentric by Ginkgo is a COVID-19 testing service that aims to make testing accessible for every school in America. We use a method called pooling to dramatically lower costs without sacrificing accuracy. Pooling makes it possible to test every student in America every week.
No. Since pooled tests do not provide results for individuals, the results are not reported to public health authorities. We only share the results of pooled tests with the individuals that you tell us to.
One of our pooled tests combines swabs from 5 to 25 people. There are different regulations for tests that provide individual results and tests that provide “population-level” results—that is, results for groups of people. Tests that do not give individual results, like our pooled test, do not require FDA authorization. For more information on how different types of tests are regulated, visit this CDC webpage to learn more.
Each pool consists of samples from 5 to 25 people.
Molecular tests, which detect the genetic code of the virus, are typically highly accurate at detecting the virus that causes COVID-19. Click here to read our validation reports for our lab at Ginkgo and our partner labs across the country. Fair warning: the information is a bit dense!
Our pooled test uses short nasal swabs that go just a half inch into the nostril; think: cotton swabs. We do not use the long “brain tickler” swabs for our pooled test. We like to say, “if you can pick your nose, you can take this test!”
We offer a pooled test that can test 25 people using one test. Our pooled test works by detecting the genetic code of the virus that causes COVID-19. These tests are sometimes known as “molecular tests” or “PCR tests.”
For individual diagnostic testing, we offer rapid antigen and PCR tests. Both of these types of tests can be used as a follow up to pooled testing, to help pinpoint infections.
Testing an entire classroom usually takes about 10-15 minutes and speeds up after the first day. The students become pros at swabbing their nose.
In our experience, not only can kindergarteners perform their own swabs, they often do the best of all the grades. Our test can be used by any grade, K through 12.
Click here to get started! You can schedule time with our team to discuss your school’s options.
We’re here for you! The first thing we do with new customers is provide them with comprehensive instructions explaining how to set up and run a testing program. We provide you with all the information you need to make sure everything runs smoothly. As of August 2021, we’ve provided our pooled testing service to over 1,000 schools; we’ve learned a lot about what schools need and are constantly improving our service to better serve you.
Pooling covers many people with just one test; this dramatically reduces the cost of testing without sacrificing accuracy, saving your school’s resources. Pooling can also take less coordination, effort, and time from schools, and we’d rather schools use their time with students to educate and enrich them.
If the pooled test result is negative, it’s unlikely anyone is infected and students continue learning uninterrupted. If the pool result is positive, someone in the classroom is most likely sick; you can then follow up to stop an outbreak—for just the cost, time, and effort of one test.
When a positive pooled test result occurs, a pod can use diagnostic tests to help confirm who is sick. The decision to do this follow-up testing is up to each school. A common next step is to provide individual testing for students in the positive pool.
All students in a class, pod, or cohort swab their own noses and place their samples in a single tube (that’s the pooling step). The samples in that tube are then run as a single sample, using one test. See it in action here.
If students have trouble performing the swabbing, schools can provide a nurse or other trained staff member to help. However, the test is so easy that kindergarteners typically can do it with no issues.
The CDC recommends that schools use layered prevention strategies—including testing—to support full-time in-person learning. The CDC also recommends testing at least once per week when using testing programs like our pooled service. However, they suggest considering testing more than once per week in areas with higher rates of community spread. School communities should develop a testing strategy—including the frequency of testing—to meet their community’s needs. (CDC guidance as of August 2021)
You know the old saying: “knowledge is power.” Tools like pooled testing empower you to make great decisions. Without knowing the specific prevalence of COVID-19 in your classrooms, it’s tough to make informed decisions about safeguarding your community, returning to school, or continuing in-person learning.
The best way families can support school testing is to provide their consent to allow their student to participate. Working together, schools and families can be advocates for community wellbeing; participating in pooled testing empowers you with data that can help safeguard the health and wellbeing of teachers, students, and your community.
Only students with completed consent forms are able to participate in testing. Schools manage gathering consent forms from families either using processes that already exist at their school or using our online platform. Once consents are collected, the testing team at a school will receive a roster of students whose legal guardians have given consent. This team may be composed of principals, health services staff, and teachers.
Our pooled test provides a result for an entire classroom, not for individuals. So, in the case of a positive pool, the school would know that at least one person in the class is likely positive but would not know the specific student.
We provide test results directly to schools, so the school will communicate with you about results. We take privacy concerns very seriously and will never use test results for any reason other than to provide your school with knowledge to help make decisions about safeguarding your community and continuing in-person learning. Click here to learn more about how we protect the privacy of students and others who use our pooled test.
Schools often follow up positive pools by providing resources for individual testing. For instance, the state of Massachusetts recommends that schools follow up positive pools with rapid tests that they provide. Please check with your school about its specific guidelines and available resources.
If a student has tested positive for COVID-19 within the last three months, they should not be included in pooled testing because they may still produce a positive test result. This is due to the fact that our test may detect leftover viral particles in a student’s nose.
Students swab their own noses with a short swab that goes only half an inch into the nostril. A support staff or school administrator like a nurse observes the students perform their swabs from a safe distance, but there is no physical contact.
If students have trouble performing the swabbing, a nurse or other trained staff member Concentric or the school provides can help. However, the test is so easy that kindergarteners typically can do it with no issues.