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D.C. EDUCATION BRIEFS: Stronger Safety Pledges

Here’s a list of pledges D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office has created to help students and staff have a successful 2021-22 school year:

  • Wear my mask at school and on school grounds at all times, and when in close proximity to others outside my household.
  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine if I’m eligible.
  • Wherever possible, maintain physical distance from those outside my household.
  • Practice safe hygiene, like washing my hands for at least 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer regularly.
  • Limit or postpone nonessential travel to areas outside of the DC, Maryland, and Virginia region.
  • Choose family activities that minimize the risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Complete my daily health assessment to monitor any symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Stay home if I do not feel well or have symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Immediately alert my school if I test positive for COVID-19 and work with contact tracers to identify any close contacts.
  • Be a champion for health and safety in my community.

Symptomatic, Random Asymptomatic Testing

Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently announced that all 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.

According to the mayor’s office, the non-invasive test will require students to hold a small vial with a funnel attached and produce a saliva sample.

Consent for student COVID-19 testing, which has already begun, will take place via an “opt-out” process. Parents, guardians, and students 18 and older can revoke consent through an opt-out form on the OSSE Office website.

Comprehensive COVID-19 testing plays a critical role in safely reopening the city’s schools and keeping students learning in person at school as well. The District’s transition to an opt-out model will significantly increase participation in its 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 percent of asymptomatic students, targeting unvaccinated students. Students who 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 D.C., will allow for electronic signature so that signatories can email the form to their school.

Weekly testing will remain available for all unvaccinated staff in participating schools. Staff will continue to opt into this testing program.

SOE Recommendations

The D.C. State Board of Education remains confident that many more families will be sending their students for in-person instruction five days a week.

However, for those who believe a different option is best for them, school officials believe it is important to provide options until the pandemic is over, or at least until infection rates have substantially decreased.

To facilitate this decision-making process, SOE recommends adjusting attendance policies to provide additional flexibility for excused absences.

Dorothy Rowley – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I knew I had to become a writer when at age nine I scribbled a note to my younger brother’s teacher saying I thought she was being too hard on him in class. Well, the teacher immediately contacted my mother, and with tears in her eyes, profusely apologized. Of course, my embarrassed mother dealt with me – but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my passion for words and writing. Nowadays, as a “semi-retiree,” I continue to work for the Washington Informer as a staff writer. Aside from that, I keep busy creating quirky videos for YouTube, participating in an actor’s guild and being part of my church’s praise dance team and adult choir. I’m a regular fixture at the gym, and I like to take long road trips that have included fun-filled treks to Miami, Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. I’m poised to take to the road again in early 2017, headed for New Orleans, Louisiana. This proud grandmother of two – who absolutely adores interior decorating – did her undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University and graduate work at Virginia State University.

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