This morning, the Barnard Covid Testing Center revealed that they have created a new category for “inconclusive” COVID-19 test results, which occur when one probe detects a COVID-19 strain while another does not.

The Barnard Covid Testing Center has updated their CoVerified testing categories to accommodate for “inconclusive results,” according to an email sent to Barnard students this morning. This update comes after The Broad Institute decided to change their testing process to double capacity, making each test slightly “more sensitive.” The lab will now assign “inconclusive” results to tests where only one probe tests positive for COVID-19, while the other does not. The full text of the email is attached below.

Prior to this update, the CoVerified app placed invalid results and non-performed tests under the same category of “inconclusive.” However, the Barnard Covid Testing Center wanted to provide more specific records, clarifying if a student’s test would come back TNP (“test not performed”), invalid, or inconclusive. According to the email, the app will be updated “in the coming weeks” with the new categories. People who get inconclusive results will now be notified via the CoVerified app. Students will also receive a PDF document of their results, and, if their test comes back inconclusive, they will be able to see the classification in red font and in capital letters.

Barnard’s current policy regarding inconclusive test results is that any community member who generates an “inconclusive” test result must isolate until they receive a retest result that comes back negative. Anyone who shares a living space and/or residential bathroom with that community member must also quarantine. 

According to the email, next steps about retesting and isolation will be outlined in a forthcoming update from the Barnard College Pandemic Response Team. Students may contact if they have any questions or concerns.

Email from the Barnard Covid Testing Center, sent at 10:25 am:


I am writing to everyone who has tested at Barnard since January 2 with an update about a new category of test result. 

The Broad has changed their testing process to double their capacity, and the change has made their test slightly more sensitive. The test uses two probes to indicate the presence of SARS-CoV-2 DNA. The lab now assigns an “inconclusive” result to tests where only one of the probes detects the virus but the other doesn’t. People can have small amounts of the virus in their bodies without presenting a likely risk of transmission to others. The next step following an “inconclusive” result is to retest to see if there is actually enough virus to generate a confirmed positive result, which indicates that there’s a significant risk of transmission to others.

As you may know, CoVerified had initially categorized TNP (test not performed) and invalid results under the single label of “inconclusive.” The app will be updated in the coming weeks to be clearer about results being TNP, invalid, or inconclusive. Additionally, communication from the Barnard Testing Program will be specific when referring to TNP, invalid, and inconclusive results. 

People who generate these new inconclusive results will be notified via the CoVerified app. The notification currently reads “Invalid, TNP or Inconclusive Result” and the longer message in the Alerts tab instructs people to look at the .pdf of their test results in the app and email if they see a red INCONCLUSIVE on the .pdf (see screenshots of how to see the .pdf here). 

Because these test results cannot be identified as negative and a COVID-19 signal was detected on one probe, Barnard’s current policy is that any community member who generates an “inconclusive” must isolate until they receive their retest results and people who share residential bathrooms with that community member are to quarantine. Next steps about isolating and retesting will be outlined in follow-up communications from the Pandemic Response Team.

See the table below for all result types, their meanings, and next steps that should follow any given result. (Make sure that you have enabled “display images” in your email client; if you have any issues seeing the table, you can access it via this link.)

The updated chart with the new COVID-19 test result categories

This information has been updated in:

We will continue to keep you updated about Barnard’s policies and procedures as the College continues to adapt to new developments in the pandemic. Please feel free to reach out with any questions at any time.

Thank you,


Nisha Chowdhury, MPH

COVID-19 Testing Program Manager

Barnard College via Bwog Archives