DC to test asymptomatic students, teachers, in-person staff, to prevent COVID-19 spread in schools

The District of Columbia is set to start an aggressive COVID-19 testing program of asymptomatic students and teachers, with the goal of getting them back together in classrooms, safely.

Starting next week, D.C. will begin the pilot testing protocol in its ongoing CARE or in-person learning classrooms, in which supervised students in school buildings attend virtual classes, taught remotely by teachers.

Under the new program, announced by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, students will be offered free-to-students PCR nasal-swab tests once every 10 days. A testing consent form signed by the student’s parent or guardian will be required.

The tests will be administered by DC Health medical staff.

In-school partner staff supporting the CARE classrooms, as well as teachers will receive a self-administered testing kit in the mail, once a week. Staffers are not required to complete the weekly test, but are encouraged to take advantage of the convenience offered with the at-home method.

“There is a sense of urgency to get more students back in school with their teachers, peers and school community, and we are hopeful that these new protocols move us one step closer to reopening,” Bowser said in a news release.

With the regular asymptomatic testing protocol, students and staff will continue with in-person programming while test results are pending. Results will be sent by email.

According to DCPS weekly data, one student who was a part of in-person activities has tested positive, and 16 in-person students are quarantining.

The number of staff working in person who have tested positive is five, with another five pending confirmation, and 34 are quarantining.

“The ability for DCPS to implement an asymptomatic testing protocol for students and staff will allow us to continue to meet our commitment to prioritize the health and safety of our entire school community,” Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee said.

DCPS had delayed bringing some students back to classrooms. Some elementary school students returned mid-November despite resistance from a teachers’ union.

D.C. plans to bring in more students into these classrooms in December and January.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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