“Starting Wednesday, March 16, masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors in DC Public Schools”

From DCPS:

“Throughout the pandemic, DC Public Schools has implemented a layered approach to limiting the spread of COVID-19 in our schools, anchored in the guidance provided by DC Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Earlier this week, DC Health released updated guidance for educational facilities. Under the new guidance, masks are no longer required indoors or outdoors at schools when COVID-19 community levels are low based on CDC metrics.

Consistent with this guidance and the current low levels in the District, starting Wednesday, March 16, masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors in DC Public Schools, DCPS offices, and on OSSE-DOT transportation. This policy will apply to all school-related activities.

For our youngest learners in Pre-K who are not yet eligible for the lifesaving COVID-19 vaccine, we will continue to provide weekly COVID-19 test kits, and families are highly encouraged to administer those tests every Sunday to provide an additional layer of protection. We will continue to implement our Pre-K Test to Stay pilot program, and masks and additional testing will be required should a positive case be reported in a Pre-K class for the 10 days following.

As we make this transition to optional mask-wearing at school, here are five important things for families to know.

DCPS will foster an environment where all students and staff, whether they choose to wear a mask or not, feel respected.

I recognize that this is a change for our school community and may cause some initial concern. I want to strongly reiterate that all our students and staff are welcome to continue to wear a mask if they choose, and we will actively promote a climate where this choice is respected.

Families who wish to continue to have their child wear a mask will have access to free masks at school. Families can also visit their neighborhood COVID Center to receive free, child-sized KN95 respirator masks. COVID-19 testing resources and vaccinations are also available at these locations. Families who wish for their child to continue to wear a mask should have a conversation with their child about their expectations.

Our layered mitigation strategy remains in effect, including asymptomatic testing.

We will continue our enhanced air filtration efforts and cleaning protocols, symptom screening at the door, and our symptomatic and asymptomatic at-school testing program.

The isolation (should you test positive) and quarantine (should you be determined a close contact) time periods are now adjusted. Please refer to the chart below for the latest DC Health guidance.

We will continue to notify the community of positive reported cases at school and provide instructions to individuals identified as close contacts.

Positive Cases

Keeping students, families, and staff informed about COVID-19 cases remains part of our health and safety measures. To help streamline how cases are reported to schools, families are encouraged to use this online form to report a positive case of COVID-19. This is the same form utilized for #SafeReturn testing following instructional breaks.

Contact Tracing

Moving forward, close contact notices will be shared with an entire classroom of a reported positive case, and any individuals identified as close contacts during lunch periods.

We know that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is best way to protect yourself and others.

It is essential for our students to be fully up to date on their vaccines, including their booster shots, to protect themselves from COVID-19 AND to remain in the classroom if they are identified as a close contact of an individual with COVID-19.

Anyone in the District who is age 5 and older and in need of the COVID-19 vaccine or a booster shot should visit their local COVID Center. You can also visit your health care provider, a local pharmacy, or a community health clinic to get vaccinated. See locations around the city at this link.”

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