Important update on asymptomatic and symptomatic testing at DCPS

From the Chancellor

This post is an email sent by Chancellor Ferebee to the DCPS community on August 27, 2021.

Dear DCPS Families, 

DC Public Schools is committed to the health and safety of our students and staff. We have a robust, layered mitigation strategy to prevent the spread of COVID-19 based on three key pillars: prevent, screen, and inform.  

Today, we are reaching out with an important update regarding the screening pillar and asymptomatic testing for students this school year. Consistent with CDC and DC Health guidance, DCPS will test 10 percent of students each week to screen for COVID-19 as part of our health and safety protocols, targeting unvaccinated students.  

We are writing with an update on how schools will administer these tests. Students will now be automatically enrolled in the testing program which supports asymptomatic testing, symptomatic testing and testing for close contacts. Please disregard the COVID-19 testing consent forms previously shared in messages from DCPS.  

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. 

To opt-out, parents/guardians or students over the age of 18 will now need to email or provide their schools with a signed opt-out form available at

Asymptomatic testing will begin on a rolling basis at schools starting September 2, 2021. If any student or staff member is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms while at school, on-site rapid tests will be available beginning on the first day of school. 

As a reminder, each family should complete the “Ask. Ask. Look” checklist prior to coming to school each day. Anyone experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms should not come to school.  

Testing programs that screen for COVID-19, alongside other prevention strategies, can detect new positive cases of COVID-19 and work to prevent potential outbreaks. This not only protects the health and wellness of our school communities but supports schools to remain open for in-person instruction safely. 

This transition from an opt-in COVID-19 testing model to an opt-out model does not affect a parent’s rights concerning their student’s participation. On the form, the District is providing detailed information on the testing program so that parents can make an informed decision whether to affirmatively opt out of the program. 

I encourage you to visit for detailed information about our health and safety measures for students and staff, such as wearing a mask, physical distancing, and enhanced air filtration. We’ll see you in school next week. 


Lewis D. Ferebee, Ed.D.