D.C. Mayor Bowser Requires Negative Coronavirus Tests for Public School Students


Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that D.C. Public Schools (DCPS) students cannot return to school after winter break unless they show proof of a negative coronavirus test.

Although the school year begins on Monday, January 3, the District altered the school calendar so January 3 and 4 can serve as “non-instructional days for students to allow families and staff to pick up tests.”

D.C. is offering families free rapid antigen tests to comply with the requirement. Parents may pick up the tests beginning January 3 but must wait until January 4 to test their children. Tests given before January 4 will not be accepted, according to the mayor’s office.

“It is true that we have asked our principals and teachers to do a lot. Please, families, don’t also ask them to do what could have been done on Tuesday,” Bowser said. “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 [sic]. That’s it.”

D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Lewis Ferebee said the District is prepared to turn away students who do not comply with the testing requirement.

“The health and safety of our community remain paramount as we prepare to welcome students and staff back to our schools,” said Ferebee. “As we have throughout the COVID-19 health crisis, DCPS will continue to follow the guidance of public health authorities and utilize all resources available to maintain in-person learning opportunities for our students.”

Last week, the D.C. City Council approved a coronavirus vaccine mandate for students.

Bowser’s decision arrived on the same day CDC Director Rochelle Walensky cast doubt on the effectiveness of PCR and antigen tests. Walensky admitted that individuals “can remain PCR positive for up to 12 weeks after infection and long after they are transmissible and infectious.”

Walensky also said, “we also don’t know that antigen tests give a good indication of transmissibility” during the first five days of infection.

The mayor added that schools might transition to remote learning for a ten-day period in the event of a mid-semester coronavirus outbreak.

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