DC families urged to watch for coronavirus symptoms as schools reopen

Next week will mark a milestone for D.C. students as the city’s public school system reopens for in-person learning amid the ongoing pandemic — and education leaders are urging families to be aware of their responsibilities.

With the return to classrooms, school officials are asking families to be vigilant for any symptoms of the disease in their children.

“We ask our families to acknowledge their willingness to participate in our daily temperature screenings,” said Brenda Elliott, chief of school improvement and supports for D.C. Public Schools.

Students, while at home, should be asked each day if they have coronavirus symptoms, Elliott added. They will be then screened at school and have their temperature taken.

Families are being told to keep their kids home if someone in their household tests positive for the virus, and to inform their school if they take a trip to a high-risk area.

More than 7,000 students are expected to return for in-person classes on Monday. About 4,200 — or 54% — of teachers and staff are working in-person.

“We are pleased to be able to provide symptomatic and asymptomatic testing to students and staff who are participating in in-person learning,” Elliott said.

Asymptomatic tests will be conducted on a rolling basis every 10 days. Students will not be tested if their family has not signed a consent form, so Elliott urged all families to submit the form before sending their kids back to school buildings.

“If this consent is not provided by the family, a COVID-19 test will not be administered even if showing symptoms and will be asked to see a doctor before returning to your child’s classroom,” according to the school system’s guide for returning to class.

Lewis Ferebee, chancellor of D.C. Public Schools, said teachers will start off slow.

“I want to remind families that we are thinking about how to best support you in this transition,” Ferebee said. “Our teachers are not going to start day one rushing into academics. We know we have to reconnect with our students.”

Teachers and staff who will be participating have been lining up to receive doses of the coronavirus vaccine, which are being made available at a clinic run by Children’s National Hospital at Dunbar High School.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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