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DCPS COVID-19 Response Protocol

Through the DCPS COVID-19 Response Protocol, every staff member will be trained to confidentially report potential exposure in a school building. If there are any confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to DCPS by a student, family, or staff member — whether they have been in a school building or not — we will share that information with DC Health for contact tracing purposes. Notices of reported positive cases will be shared with a school community.

What if someone at my student’s school tests positive for COVID-19?

If a student or staff member who was in the building in the past 14 days reports a positive test for COVID-19, schools will follow the health and safety guidance released by DC Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

The positive individual will immediately begin working or learning from home and consult their healthcare provider, and DCPS will notify DC Health. We will provide self-quarantine instructions to close contacts, notify student and staff in the building about the positive case, and follow all steps outlined by DC Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing of the facility. DCPS will consult with DC Health to determine the conditions under which an individual school, multiple schools, or all schools district wide will be shut down.

View examples of letters that may be sent to a school community about COVID-19 cases, and click here to review notifications sent to a school community since the start of in-person programming in Term 2.

Below are a sample of potential scenarios and responses.

What is DCPS’ COVID-19 testing protocol?

With our regular asymptomatic testing protocol, students and staff will continue to participate in their in-person programming while test results are pending. Individuals will be notified of their results via email, and results will also be sent directly to DC Health to inform public health data. Should an individual develop COVID-19 symptoms at any time, they should immediately self-quarantine and contact their medical provider per DCPS health and safety protocols.

In-School Testing for Students

Read the March 8 update on asymptomatic testing changes and FAQ for families.

DC Health, aligned with the CDC, now recommends weekly asymptomatic testing using a random sampling of 10 percent of the student population, selected from students with signed asymptomatic testing consent forms. This means that for a school with an in-person programming enrollment of 100 (and all of them have signed consent forms), 10 students would be selected at random each week and be tested. 

Accordingly, and in partnership with DC Health and Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC) Children’s School Services (CSS), we will also shift the role of administering student asymptomatic testing to our School Nurses starting Monday, March 15. 

Students selected as part of the random sample group are determined the day of testing. This is done to ensure that the testing sample accurately reflects students that are present at school on the testing date. As a result, prior notification of testing is not feasible. However, schools will share their testing schedule with families. We ask that families talk with their student about the possibility of being selected as part of the testing sample. Families will receive a notification if/when their student participates in testing.

If you would like to sign a COVID-19 asymptomatic testing consent form for your child who is attending in person programming, please contact your child’s school directly to submit the forms available at the Family Guide for In-Person Learning.

Families will receive more information from their school and DC Health on how to receive their results and how to keep their household safe if a student tests positive. When a positive result is reported from in-school, asymptomatic testing, the student’s classroom cohort will begin a 14-day quarantine and a notification will be sent to the school community.

Weekly Testing for In-Person School Staff

DCPS staff and partner staff supporting CARE Classrooms in person can opt-in to receive a self-administered testing kit in the mail every 10 days. Staff will not be required to complete the regular test but are encouraged to utilize the convenience offered by this at-home method. Staff members who are eligible to receive a testing kit will receive more information directly from DCPS Employee Services. When a positive result is reported from weekly staff testing, close contacts will be notified to quarantine and a notification will be sent to the school community.

Symptomatic Rapid Testing

Schools will provide on-site rapid testing for symptomatic individuals. Follow-up confirmatory PCR testing is also available should a student receive a negative rapid test result. When a positive result is reported from rapid testing protocol, the student’s classroom cohort will begin a 14-day quarantine and a notification will be sent to the school community.

School staff members who develop symptoms during the workday may receive a PCR test on site and are encouraged to see their personal medical provider. All DCPS staff members who are working in person, whether they are a District resident or not, can show their school ID to be prioritized at any District public testing sites.

What is a close contact?

For COVID-19, a close contact is defined as any individual who was within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes starting from two days before illness onset (or, for asymptomatic patients, two days prior to positive specimen collection) until the time the patient is isolated. Please note, the definition of “close contact” does not include all other individuals on the same floor or in the same building as a positive individual, unless they also meet either criteria.

The DC Health Contact Trace force will interview the individual who reported a positive test to identify other close contacts outside of the school; reach out to all quarantined contacts to provide information on the precautions to follow while in quarantine; and assist individuals in obtaining resources they may need during their quarantine period.

When is it safe for a staff member or student to return to school if they have been ill?

Click here for a helpful flowchart from OSSE outlining return to school criteria for anyone with symptoms or a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

Once a staff member or student has experienced symptoms or tested positive for COVID-19, they can return to school after they have completed the appropriate isolation period:

  • At least 24 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and respiratory symptoms have improved; AND
  • At least 10 days after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later (some individuals, including those with severe illness, may have longer quarantine periods per DC Health or their healthcare provider).
  • If the staff member or student is asymptomatic, they can return after 10 days from positive test.

Close contacts may not return to the school building until 14 days from last exposure to a COVID-19 positive individual, or as instructed by DC Health. This information will be communicated in a letter sent to them by their school.

Are teachers and school staff eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

As of March 8, all teachers and staff who work at a school or licensed child care facility in DC and have not been vaccinated previously are now eligible to be vaccinated.

Staff individually attest to their eligibility through the vaccinate.dc.gov portal.

All staff who work at a District school or child care facility are eligible for vaccination, including staff working virtually, staff who do not work directly with students (e.g., operational staff), part-time staff and partner organization staff (e.g., before/after-care providers or therapists delivering in-person services to children while in the care of the facility). Staff who work at a District school or licensed child care provider but live outside the District are eligible.

Eligible residents and workers are encouraged to go online at vaccinate.dc.gov to sign up. If you do not have access to a computer or smartphone, or need extra assistance, you can also pre-register via the Call Center at 1-855-363-0333.

Page updated: March 11, 2021.