DCPS

DC Schools to Require Negative COVID Test Results

The announcement on the school district comes as the D.C. area is watched nationally as a hot spot for COVID infections

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What to Know

  • DCPS will require its nearly 50,000 students plus staff members to show proof of negative COVID-19 test results before returning to schools next week.
  • “We may need to turn some students away, and we’re prepared to do that,” Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said.
  • The school district also announcement new guidelines for school closures and told families that more online learning is possible this winter.

DC Public Schools students and staff members must show negative COVID-19 test results before returning to schools next week after winter break, officials said Wednesday. 

Without test results, students cannot return to schools on Wednesday, Jan. 5, DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

“We’re expecting all of them to take a test and report a test on Tuesday,” Bowser said at a news conference.

Students whose families have not provided COVID test results will not be allowed to enter schools. 

“We may need to turn some students away, and we’re prepared to do that,” Ferebee said.

The announcement on the school district of nearly 50,000 students comes as the D.C. area is watched nationally as a hot spot for COVID infections. 

Tens of thousands of D.C. public school students will have to get tested for COVID-19 before returning to school.

The goal of the "test to stay" policy in schools is to keep schools open, students in classrooms and everyone safe, Ferebee said.

Here Is DCPS’ Guidance to Families

Families can pick up an iHealth rapid antigen test from a school or a Test Yourself Express pickup site. Tests will be available at schools on: 

  • Monday, Jan. 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. and 
  • Tuesday, Jan. 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Families are asked to test their children on Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

“Families may choose to utilize their own antigen or PCR testing option, but tests administered before January 4 will not be accepted,” info from DCPS says. 

Test results should be uploaded to dcps.dc.gov/safereturn by 4 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 4.

The requirement is specific to DCPS. Charter schools are testing but tests are not required. Charter school families are asked to contact their schools. 

New DCPS Guidelines on Virtual Learning

DCPS set new guidelines for school closures due to COVID and told families that more online learning is possible this winter.

“We should expect that schools and classroom will need to transition to situational virtual learning throughout the semester,” Ferebee said. 

If an entire school needs to go virtual because of COVID cases, online learning will go on for up to 10 calendar days. Decisions about classrooms and grade levels will be made on a case-by-case basis. Administrators will aim to announce changes by 8 p.m. the day before a shift will take effect.

Data used to determine whether a school will move to virtual learning could include staff availability numbers and the percent of students and staff in quarantine, DCPS said, without citing specific thresholds. 

Bowser announced earlier this month that all District schools would close on Jan. 3 and Jan. 4 so families can pick up self-test kits. Ferebee previously said that testing would be “highly encouraged" but not required.

The entire D.C. area is seeing an uptick in COVID cases, as the omicron variant and previous variants of the virus spread. 

D.C. is “in the middle of a winter COVID surge,” said Patrick Ashley, a senior deputy director of DC Health. The number of people hospitalized with the virus has risen, and about a quarter of hospital staff are off the job because of isolation or quarantine.

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