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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.

The DC Health Contact Trace force will interview the individual 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.

Below are a sample of potential scenarios and responses.

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.

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 tests positive 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.


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.