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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 — DCPS will follow DC Health’s COVID reporting criteria — for contact tracing purposes. Notices of reported positive cases will be shared with a school community if a person has been in the building during their infectious period. Note that DCPS will maintain confidentiality of positive persons at all times.

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

If a student or staff member who was in the building during their infectious period and 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 if the person was in the building during their infectious period, and will 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.

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.

Our testing protocol reinforces the strong health and safety commitments to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. DC Health does not recommend universal testing of all students and staff as a prerequisite for in-school attendance.

In-School Testing for Students

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

Asymptomatic testing is random sample testing of a school populations that is not necessarily intended to diagnose individuals but intended to collect data that allows influences public health data on understanding how COVID is impacting the school community. This testing is not intended for students who are displaying COVID-19 symptoms.

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. School nurses administer student asymptomatic testing as of March 15, 2021.

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.

Symptomatic testing is intended for students displaying COVID-19 symptoms while at school. Students will be evaluated by the school nurse. If determined by the nurse that the student needs a COVID test and if the students have a valid symptomatic COVID-19 consent form on file, the school nurse will immediately conduct a COVID-19 rapid test of the symptomatic student.

A testing consent form signed by the student’s parent or guardian will be required, and schools will provide those documents to families.

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Weekly Testing for In-Person School Staff

DCPS in-person staff and partner staff supporting CARE Classrooms 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.

Beginning Monday, March 22, our testing infrastructure for in-person staff expanded to also include on-site, asymptomatic testing administered by DC Health. Staff participation in this testing opportunity is purely optional. DC Health staff will visit schools every 7 days to conduct staff testing. Please note that based on this schedule, all staff may not be guaranteed access to on-site testing each week.

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.

  • Positive individuals or close contacts that have had COVID within the last 90 days, AND do NOT have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine.
  • Positive individuals or close contacts who are fully vaccinated (2 weeks/14 days after last dose in vaccination series) AND do NOT have symptoms do not need to quarantine.

What if my student tests positive?

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 10-day quarantine and a notification will be sent to the school community.

  • Positive individuals or close contacts that have had COVID within the last 90 days, AND do NOT have symptoms do NOT need to quarantine.
  • Positive individuals or close contacts who are fully vaccinated (2 weeks/14 days after last dose in vaccination series) AND do NOT have symptoms do not need to quarantine.

Symptomatic Testing

Schools will provide on-site rapid testing for symptomatic students. 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 10-day quarantine and a notification will be sent to the school community.

Note: Students are allowed to take tests outside of those offered at DCPS. These results are self-reported, and DCPS will follow protocols accordingly once notified by the student/family.

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 within 24 hours 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?

See page 23 in this guidance 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.
  • DCPS requires a note from the contact tracers or their primary care doctor to return.

Close contacts may not return to the school building until 10 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.

Ending quarantine after 10 days (on day 11) is only acceptable if:

  • The close contact did not develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any point during the quarantine. 23 COVID-19 Exposure for more information AND
  • The close contact continues to self-monitor for symptoms until 14 days after the last exposure to the COVID-19 positive individual.

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

Yes! As of March 10, all DCPS staff, whether are working in person or virtually, who have not been vaccinated previously were eligible to be vaccinated. This applies to non-DC residents, too.

Beginning Monday, April 12, all DC residents 16 and older will become eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in Washington, DC.

To pre-register for your vaccination appointment, go to vaccinate.dc.gov or call the COVID-19 Call Center at 1-855-363-0333. For deaf/hard-of-hearing individuals, dial 711 for TTY service.

Page updated: April 23, 2021