All District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) students and staff will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result before the start of the 2022-2023 School Year. For most students, that is Monday, August 29. Pre-K students begin Thursday, Sept. 1.
DCPS K-12 families must administer their student’s test and upload their test results to DCPSstrong.com/testing on Sunday, August 28. Pre-K families must administer their student’s test and upload their test results on Wednesday, August 31.
Masks have been optional at DCPS since March 16. They may still be worn at the discretion of individual teachers and families. Public charter and private schools may set different rules, so check with your school if that describes your school community.
“We are excited to welcome our students, families, and staff back to school for this critically important school year,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser (D). “A strong school year starts with a strong first day, and we are grateful to families for once again helping us ensure a safe and healthy return to school.”
This month, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education (OSSE) also distributed antigen tests kits to all public charter local education agencies (LEAs) in the District to facilitate participation in test to return. Each LEA received enough tests for every student, teacher, and staff member.
Are You Up to Date with Immunizations?
This year, District students aged 12 and older will need also to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Last year DC Council passed a law last year that requires it, when the vaccine has full approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Full approval is different than emergency authorization and is done by age group. In July, the FDA gave it to the COVID vaccine for kids 12 to 15.
But the District has done a pretty good job of getting the COVID shot to teens. DC Health said 87 percent of kids between 12 & 15 are fully vaccinated against COVID. More than 90 percent have at least one shot. That’s a small gap that officials think can be closed.
The real problem now is with routine vaccinations. Experts say we need 95 percent of kids to be covered to prevent an outbreak. But a quarter of District students are missing the shot that would protect them and their classmates against diseases like tetanus, mumps or measles.
Mayor Muriel Bowser has said there will be no virtual option. But If kids don’t have proof they are fully immunized in to school by the 20th day of class—or Sept. 19 —they could be barred from attendng.
And in June, Mayor Bowser said they would be.
“I have to say, the requirement will be enforced; it will be,” she said during a June press conference. “So now is the time to get your child vaccinated.”
Get a COVID Rapid Test
DCPS provided the following instruction to families for COVID tests.
- Pick up a rapid antigen test from a District COVID Center, DCPS school, or a Test Yourself Express pickup site.
- Tests are available at every DCPS school today, Thursday, August 25, and Friday, August 26 with the following schedule:
- Thursday, August 25 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
- Friday, August 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
- DCPS families must pick up their test kits from the school their child attends. Families with students who attend multiple schools may pick up test kits for all their enrolled students at one school.
- Test your child the day prior to your student’s first day of school.
- Upload your student’s results to DCPSstrong.com/testing the day prior to your student’s first day of school
DCPS families may choose to utilize their own antigen or PCR test results. You can also get two free for every District resident present by visiting a ward-based COVID Center. The Ward 6 COVID Center is at 507 Eighth St. SE and is open Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Fridays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where-ever you ge the test, it must be administered starting Sunday, August 28 for K-12 students (Wednesday, August 31 for Pre-K students) to be accepted.
DCPS families should report their child’s results by:
- Visiting DCPSstrong.com/testing
- Entering your student’s name, address, a contact email, a contact phone number, their school, the date of their test, and their test results
- Uploading a photo or PDF of your results
Update and Submit Your Immunization Records
District law requires students in all DC schools including private, parochial, and independent schools, to be fully compliant with required vaccinations to attend school, and that schools verify immunization certification for all students as part of enrollment and attendance. Families can download the Universal Health Certificate and the DC Oral Health Assessment Form here.
The Coronavirus Immunization of School Students and Early Childhood Workers Amendment Act of 2021, which the Council passed in 2021, requires students ages 12 and older to be vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to attend school. Families can access free vaccinations at a local COVID Center. Find a schedule at coronavirus.dc.gov/COVIDCenters.
The best place for DC families to access required childhood immunizations is through their primary medical provider. However, DC Health and its partners are also offering special vaccination opportunities across the District. These include:
- Fast-track, vaccination-only clinics at Mary’s Center, Unity Health Care, and Children’s National Medical Center clinics
- DC Health Mobile Clinics
To learn more, please visit DCPSstrong.com.