As D.C. students are slated to return to in-person classes this week, Mayor Muriel Bowser said schools navigating COVID-19 test-to-return programs have shown a mandate from parents to keep kids learning.
WTOP asked Bowser about her test-to-return program in the District, recent winter weather that pulled students out of school and her conversations with parents.
Bowser said that the testing program was robust to return from break and said that thousands of D.C. families met that request.
“For us, those are 40,000 votes for school,” Bowser said. “Let’s be clear, that’s a mandate that families want the city to do everything that we can to make sure that we have safe school options.”
The remaining 10,000 or so students that haven’t turned in their results have the option to get tested at the school or bring their results with them to class.
She said surveillance programs would continue in the District, helping to identify asymptomatic COVID-19 infections and track cases among younger students. Bowser added that case surges were a serious focus and that a solution remains.
“But what makes all the difference,” she asked. “Vaccine.”
Cory and Racine Randolph, two parents in the District, said that their children, an 8- and 6-year-old, were fully vaccinated and tested routinely. They said the program was a relief.
The family said that their children adapted quickly to social distancing and health throughout the pandemic. Cory approves of the test-to-return program.
“It gave us a lot of relief that they’d be going back to school safely,” Rory said. “And a little bit of anxiety before the results, but the 15 minutes you get them and our kids were clear.”
Even so, the Randolphs said they really lost something during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, for kids in school, and even up to the college students, they’re really having to make significant sacrifice,” Racine Randolph said. “But, one thing I can say is our youth are very resilient and adaptable.”
WTOP’s Gigi Barnett and Luke Lukert contributed to this report.