All DCPS students, staff need to show proof of negative COVID test before return to school

All students and staff at D.C. Public Schools will have to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before they head back to classrooms Jan. 5, city officials said Wednesday.

Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said during a news briefing that rapid antigen tests will be available to pick up at any DCPS school Monday and Tuesday.

Families are asked to test their children on Tuesday, Jan. 4, and upload the results — either a photo or PDF, along with contact information — to dcps.dc.gov/safereturn by 4 p.m. Tests administered before Tuesday will not be accepted.

“Any student that does not have their results uploaded by Jan. 4 will not be allowed to attend school on Jan. 5,” Ferebee said.

The chancellor added that reminders will be sent out to families and D.C. will host a tele-townhall for families to get more information about DCPS protocols.

Ferebee said that the requirement does mean that some students could be turned away: “And we’re prepared to do that.”

While Ferebee said that tests will be available at schools on Jan. 5, Mayor Muriel Bowser urged parents to get their kids tested and report the results Jan. 4.

“It is true that we have asked our principals and teachers to do a lot,” Bowser said. “Please, families, don’t also ask them to do what could have been done on Tuesday. We’re providing the tests. We’re asking you to do the swabs, wait 15 minutes and upload the results with the proof the test. That’s it.”

School-based staff are asked to report to schools Monday and report their results by 1 p.m. that day.

Charter schools are testing, but not all charter schools are making proof of a negative test a requirement. Families should follow up with individual charter schools for guidance.

Ferebee said that while D.C. wants to maintain as much in-person learning as possible, switching to virtual learning may be necessary in some cases.

“We should expect classrooms or schools or grade levels to temporarily transition to a virtual learning posture as needed throughout the remainder of this semester in the coming weeks and throughout the school year,” he said. “All of these decisions we do not take lightly.”

Ferebee said in the event that an entire school needs to be transitioned to virtual learning, that time period will be up to 10 calendar days.

“Decisions about classrooms and grade levels at a particular school will also be made on a case by case basis,” Ferebee said, adding that families will get a heads up by 8 p.m.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Editor and reporter for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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