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Mayor Bowser and OSSE Announce Changes to the District’s School-Based COVID-19 Testing Program

Friday, August 27, 2021
Students at Participating Schools Now Automatically Eligible for Symptomatic and Asymptomatic Testing; Parents and Guardians Can ‘Opt-Out’ of Program
(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) announced that all DC Public Schools (DCPS) students and students at public charter schools participating in the District’s testing program will be automatically eligible for symptomatic and random asymptomatic testing as part of the centralized, school-based COVID-19 testing program with Shield T3. The test will be a non-invasive, saliva-based PCR test. Instead of a nasal swab, students will hold a small vial with a funnel attached and produce a saliva sample.
 
Effective Monday, August 30, consent for student COVID-19 testing will take place via an “opt-out” process. Parents, guardians, and students age 18 and older can revoke consent through an opt-out form on the OSSE’s website.
 
Comprehensive COVID-19 testing plays a critical role in safely reopening our schools and keeping students learning in person at school. The District’s transition to an opt-out model will significantly increase participation in the District’s COVID-19 school-based testing program while simultaneously reducing administrative burdens and barriers to testing for schools, students and families. Participating schools will aim to test a random sample of 10-20% of asymptomatic students, targeting unvaccinated students. Students that develop symptoms of COVID-19 while at school will also be eligible for symptomatic testing.
 
The opt-out form, which will be available in the seven most commonly spoken languages in DC, contains detailed information on the testing program so that parents, guardians and students age 18 and older can make an informed decision whether to affirmatively opt out of the program, and will allow for electronic signature so that signatories can email the form to their school.
 
When schools implement testing combined with other prevention strategies, they can detect new cases to of COVID-19 to prevent potential outbreaks and further protect students, teachers and staff from COVID-19. This not only protects the health and wellness of our school communities but supports schools to remain open for in-person instruction safely.
 
Weekly testing will remain available for all unvaccinated staff in participating schools. Staff will continue to opt into this testing program.