DC to require negative COVID-19 test for all students and staffers returning to classrooms

Washington, D.C., has announced new COVID-19 regulations for students and staff returning to schools after the holiday season. 

Mayor Muriel BowserMuriel BowserMask rules spark political games and a nasty environment in the House DC adding vaccine, testing centers as region's COVID-19 death rate increases Feehery: DC will become the inverse of West Berlin MORE (D) and D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) Chancellor Lewis Ferebee announced on Wednesday that to ensure safety amid the ongoing COVID-19 surge, DCPS will require all students and staff to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before they return to school on Jan. 5. 

DCPS added that it will make free rapid antigen tests available on Monday, Jan. 3, and Tuesday, Jan. 4. 

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Parents must upload their child’s negative test results online by 4 p.m. on Jan. 4. Officials said they can upload either either a photo or PDF, along with their contact information.

Officials are asking parents to keep children at home regardless of their test results if they are showing any symptoms or if they are required to quarantine because they are unvaccinated and have been identified as a close contact of an individual who tested positive for COVID-19.

In the event that a student tests positive, families are being told to reach out to the child's school so that their absence can be noted.

“The health and safety of our community remain paramount as we prepare to welcome students and staff back to our schools,” Ferebee said in an official release.

Officials added that they expected to have to transition schools and classes to situational virtual learning throughout the semester, particularly in the weeks following the January return date.

D.C., Maryland and Virginia all reported record-breaking numbers of coronavirus cases over Christmas weekend. On Monday, each jurisdiction reported its highest seven-day new case averages of any point throughout the pandemic so far, according to The Washington Post.

The rate of people testing positive for the virus in D.C. is reportedly higher than it has been since 2020, with 16 percent of all tests the District has reported coming back positive as of Sunday.