Winter Break COVID-19 Testing

DCPS families will need to:

The health, safety, and well-being of our school community remain our highest priorities. To support a safe reopening of our schools, all students and staff will be required to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test before returning to school on Thursday, January 6.

Students who have not provided proof of a negative test result will not be permitted to attend school until they provide proof of a negative test result. Tests must be administered within 24 hours of returning to school.

FAQ: COVID-19 Testing after Winter Break (updated 1/6/22)

Do all students have to test to return?

Yes! Following the winter break, all DCPS students must produce proof of a negative COVID-19 test administered within 24 hours of their return to school. Students who have not provided proof of a negative test will be required to take a test with a parent, guardian and/or medical professional before coming to school beginning on Thursday, January 6. Students who return after January 6, 2022, will also be required to show proof of a negative test before their return.

What happens if my student didn’t test before coming to school?

Students who did not test on Wednesday, January 5 must be tested before returning to school.

  • Parents who are bringing their students to school tomorrow who have not already tested their child will be provided with a rapid test to administer on site to their child.
  • Students who are unaccompanied and under 15: A qualified technician will administer a nose swab test on site unless a family has opted out of on-site testing. Students should anticipate a lengthy wait outside before being admitted to a designated room where they will be tested.  
  • Students who are unaccompanied and over 15: Students will be provided with a test kit to conduct their nose swab with supervision unless a family has opted out of on-site testing. Students should anticipate a lengthy wait outside before being admitted to a designated room where they will complete their test.
  • Students of families who opt out of DCPS on-site testing: Students will not be permitted to return for 10 days or until proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken on or after January 6 is provided. Students who already had an opt-out form on file for asymptomatic testing will need to submit this separate opt-out form for the nasal-based test.
  • DCPS guidance is available here and the OSSE opt-out form specifically for this type of test is available here. Students will have access to asynchronous learning materials during this time. Student absences will be excused.


My child will not be returning until the week of January 10. Do they still need to take a test? How can I get a test?

All DCPS students must take a COVID-19 test before returning to school for their first day following winter break. Families should provide their school with a photo of a negative test or proof of the test results. Test kits will not be available for distribution at schools. Families may pick up free rapid antigen tests around the city at coronavirus.dc.gov/testing. Over-the-counter rapid test results are also accepted.

If my child’s class was told to learn virtually, do I need to re-test my child?

If you tested your child on January 5 and reported their results to the Safe Return portal or your school, you are not required to test again under this policy when your student returns to in-person learning. All families should continue to monitor their students for symptoms through the daily “Ask, Ask, Look,” and families are encouraged to utilize testing resources across the city at coronavirus.dc.gov/testing.

Where do I report my results?

Thank you to the nearly 50,000 DCPS students and staff who submitted their information through the Safe Return portal. If your student is returning for the first time from winter break after January 6, please contact your school to provide proof of a negative test result or to report a positive COVID-19 test for your child.

What do I do if my child’s results are positive?

Beginning on January 6, please call your school office to notify them of a positive test result so that your school knows your child will not be present while they quarantine. Additionally, all DC residents should report any over-the-counter test results to coronavirus.dc.gov/overthecounter.

Students who test positive must isolate for a minimum of ten (10) days from the onset of symptoms or their positive test result if asymptomatic. They cannot report for in-person activities and should remain at home during this time. This includes students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On day 11, students may return to in-person activities if it has been at last been at least 24 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and other symptoms have improved; AND at least ten days after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later.

Any student who is asymptomatic and tests positive must isolate for a minimum of ten (10) days from the date they took the test. They cannot report for in-person activities and should remain at home during this time. This includes students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On day 11, students may return to in-person activities.

What else should I keep in mind after getting a negative result for my child on their COVID-19 At-Home Rapid Antigen Test?

Continue to monitor your student for any symptoms of COVID-19. If they are showing any symptoms and/or required to quarantine if they are unvaccinated and identified as a close contact to an individual who tested positive for COVID-19, keep your student at home, regardless of their test result.

How do I know if my student’s school has shifted to virtual learning?

As of January 6, DCPS has moved one school and several specific classes at other schools to situational virtual learning because of impacts on school operations from COVID-19. Jefferson Middle School will operate on situational virtual learning status for the next 10 days and reopen on January 18. Families have been notified directly if their student’s classroom has transitioned to situational virtual learning. Families should continue to closely monitor communications from their schools for any additional updates on operating status. 

How many students and staff reported their results? How many reported positive cases were there?

You can click here to see a school-by-school breakdown of reported cases to the Safe Return testing portal from January 5, 2022..

If my student previously tested positive for COVID-19, are they still required to take a rapid antigen test?

All students and staff should be tested irrespective of vaccine status and past infections.

My child rides the bus to school; what do I need to do before they get on the bus?

Parents and guardians must upload their child’s COVID-19 test results prior to the bus picking up their child. Students who do not have COVID-19 negative result will be expected to take a COVID-19 At-Home Rapid Antigen Test on site.

If I have a negative test result but have symptoms. Am I safe to come to school?

No. Students should continue to follow the “Ask, Ask, Look” protocol and must not come to school if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

My student tested positive over winter break for COVID-19 and is currently isolating. Who should I notify?

Please reach out to your school’s main office to notify school so that their absences can be coded appropriately. Please follow all isolation guidance from DC Health and your medical professionals.

Students who test positive must isolate for a minimum of ten days from the onset of symptoms. They cannot report for in-person activities and should remain at home during this time. This includes students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On day 11, students may return to in-person activities as long as it has been at last been at least 24 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and other symptoms have improved; AND at least ten days after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later.

Any student who is asymptomatic and tests positive must isolate for a minimum of ten days from the date they took the test. They cannot report for in-person activities and should remain at home during this time. This includes students who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. On day 11, students may return to in-person activities.

My student was a close contact of someone who tested positive for COVID-19 but tested negative. Is my student safe to come to school?

Any unvaccinated individual who was in close contact with an individual with COVID-19 must quarantine for ten days from the last date of exposure. Your student can take a test on or after day 5 to be able to end quarantine beginning on day 8 as long as they do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

I have a test result from a PCR test or an at-home rapid test I got from another location; can I use that?

Yes! Any COVID-19 test administered within 24 hours prior to the return to school can be provided. Families should provide their school with a photo of a negative test or proof of the test results. Test kits will not be available at schools. Families may pick up free rapid antigen tests around the city at coronavirus.dc.gov/testing.

My child got a positive result on their COVID-19 At-Home Rapid Antigen Test and a follow-up COVID-19 PCR test was negative. Can they return to school?

Under current guidance from DC Health, DC Public Schools treats any positive test result as a positive test. A student must isolate for ten days prior to returning to school.

My children were exposed to COVID-19 over the winter break and are not vaccinated. Should we still test to return to school, or should they complete their quarantine?

Please complete your quarantine for the length and duration required. Please take your COVID-19 At-Home Rapid Antigen Test and report your results to your school within 24 hours of their planned return to in-person learning. Please notify your school that your student is out due to a COVID-19 quarantine through your school’s attendance protocol.

My child was exposed to COVID-19 over the winter break and is vaccinated. Should we still test to return to school?

Fully vaccinated students do not need to quarantine if they are not showing symptoms. We do recommend that fully vaccinated students who are a close contact take a COVID-19 test between 3 and 5 days after they are exposed. Fully vaccinated individuals who experience any COVID-19 symptoms must not attend schools and should isolate from others, contact their healthcare provider, and get tested for COVID-19.

How will my child’s attendance be recorded during the first week of January?

On January 4 and 5, schools will be closed to allow staff and students to complete COVID-19 testing. Beginning January 6, 2022, attendance for students who have not completed testing will not be permitted entry and their absence, for up to ten days, will be excused.