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DC Schools to Require Negative COVID Test Results – NBC4 Washington

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  • DCPS will require its 50,000 students as well as staff to show evidence of negative COVID-19 test results before returning to schools next week.
  • “We may need to exclude some students, and we are prepared to do so,” said Chancellor Luis Ferbe.
  • The school district also announced new school closure guidelines and told families that more online learning is possible this winter.

Officials said Wednesday that students and staff at DC public schools must show negative COVID-19 test results before returning to schools next week after the winter break.

Without test results, students cannot return to school on Wednesday, January 5, DCPS Councilor Luis Ferbei and Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

“We expect them all to get tested and report back for testing on Tuesday,” Bowser said at a news conference.

Students whose families have not submitted COVID test results will not be allowed to enter schools.

“We may need to exclude some students, and we’re willing to do that,” Ferribe said.

The announcement of the school district of nearly 50,000 students comes as the metropolitan area is viewed nationwide as a COVID infection hotspot.

The point of the schools’ “stay-testing” policy is to keep schools open, students in classrooms, and everyone safe, Feribe said.

Here are DCPS Guidelines for Families

Families can get an iHealth rapid antigen test from the school or the Test Yourself Express pick-up location. Tests will be available in schools at:

  • Monday January 3 from 1 to 4 pm and
  • Tuesday January 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Families are asked to test their children on Tuesday, January 4.

“Families may choose to use their own antigen or PCR test option, but tests performed before January 4 will not be accepted,” says information from DCPS.

Test results must be uploaded to dcps.dc.gov/safereturn by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, January 4th.

Requirements are specific to DCPS. Independent schools test but tests are not required. Charter school families are required to contact their schools.

New DCPS Guidelines on Virtual Learning

DCPS has set new guidelines for school closings due to COVID and has told families that more online learning is possible this winter.

“We should anticipate that schools and classrooms will need to transition to situational virtual learning throughout the semester,” Ferribe said.

If an entire school needs to go virtual due to COVID cases, online learning will continue for up to 10 calendar days. Decisions about classes and grade levels will be made on a case-by-case basis. Officials will aim to announce the changes by 8 p.m. the day before the shift begins.

DCPS said the data used to determine whether a school will transition to virtual learning could include numbers of available staff and the proportion of students and staff in quarantine, without citing specific thresholds.

Bowser announced earlier this month that all district schools will close on January 3 and January 4 so families can pick up self-test kits. Ferebee previously said testing would be a “great encouragement” but not required.

The entire metropolitan area is seeing a slight uptick in COVID cases, as the omicron variant and pre-variants of the virus have spread.

Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director at DC Health, said the capital is “in the middle of the winter coronavirus outbreak.” The number of people hospitalized with the virus has risen, and nearly a quarter of hospital workers are out of work due to isolation or quarantine.

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