‘Sketchy’: DC doesn’t plan to retest students for COVID ahead of Monday return

After a herculean effort to get D.C. kids tested ahead of their return to school this week — for all of one day, thanks to winter weather — the District said it isn’t planning to test them again ahead of their second return Monday.

At least one D.C. Council member raised significant concerns about the plan.

“How are we tracking to see who is negative and who is positive on Monday morning?” said Trayon White, who represents Ward 8 on the council, during a Friday call.

City Administrator Kevin Donahue said they’re not.

“We’re not currently planning on doing anything in addition to what we’ve already done,” he said.

“OK, I’m concerned about that,” White said, counting down the days.

He also questioned how results are being reported.

“So … you just take a picture of it and send it in? The results?” White asked.

Donahue said that was one of the ways to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test.

“That is a little sketchy if you ask me,” White said. “You can get a picture from anywhere.”

DC Health Deputy Director Patrick Ashley said the District has had conversations about how to balance the tools it has.

“So we certainly hear you on your feedback. And we’ve had a lot of self-attestations throughout the pandemic and ask people to be truthful and honest with us. But as the mayor said yesterday, we know that people will take advantage of different systems,” Ashley said.

He also cited the volume of tests that would need to be done to retest every DCPS student if rapid antigen tests weren’t available (he said D.C. has about 100,000 of those on hand). PCR tests, which take longer, would be the next step.

“The idea of doing 40,000 PCR tests in one day, in which we get results three to five days later … doesn’t actually balance that need to be able to get that instantaneous snapshot,” Ashley said.

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.

Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor 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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