Nearly 850 D.C. Public Schools students — including an entire grade at one school — and nearly 120 staff members are in quarantine halfway through the first full week of classes.
D.C. requires students to stay home from school and quarantine if a classmate or teacher tests positive for COVID-19.
So far, at least 31 public schools have sent letters home to parents about positive cases. More than half of those schools are elementary schools.
"There will be cases of COVID and that our systems to detect those cases are robust, and our systems to isolate those cases are equally robust," Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday.
Just eight days into the school year, at least 275 students and 120 staff members were told to quarantine, including more than 100 students at Johnson Middle School in Southeast where the entire 6th grade class was told to stay home.
"Yes, we're abundantly cautious, but we are not overly cautious," Bowser said.
Bowser said the number of students missing school would go down if vaccination numbers go up.
"For all of our middle school eligible kids I want to emphasize to their families that getting vaccinated prevents them from having to be quarantined and the same is true for our high school students," she said.
Random COVID-19 testing is also part of the protocol at public schools.
"We tested, as part of our asymptomatic protocol, approximately 960 students last week and we tested this week so far 1,680 students. Thus far we have four positive cases as part of our asymptomatic testing protocols," Lewis Ferebee, Chancellor DCPS
In addition to the positive cases found during the random sampling, about 40 more students and more than 25 staff tested positive.