Health & Safety is Our Priority

At DC Public Schools, our highest priority is the safety and well-being of our school communities. We will continue to anchor our health and safety measures to the guidance from the Centers for Disease and Control (CDC), DC Health, and the Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE). Policies will be reviewed and adjusted during the school year to address any shifts in public health guidance.

SY22-23 COVID-19 Protocols

For the 2022-2023 School Year, our layered strategy for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in our school building includes:

1. Masks are optional within our schools, and we will foster an environment where all students and staff, whether they choose to wear a mask or not, feel respected.

All students and staff are welcome 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 adult- and child-sized KN95 respirator masks. Families who wish for their child to continue to wear a mask at school should have a conversation with their child about their expectations.

2. All students and staff need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test for the first day of school. You can learn more at

During the school year, there will be no onsite testing at DCPS schools. Families will be provided a test kit to take at home if their student begins showing symptoms of COVID-19 during the school day. On-site testing will not be provided.

Families and staff should review the chart below if they have questions about the quarantine or isolation guidance.

3. We will report positive cases at our schools and provide notifications to students and staff in a classroom with a positive individual.

Families and staff will be notified if a positive case is reported in their child’s classroom when an individual is infectious while in the school building. Our community can visit our health data page for daily COVID case counts by school.

4. COVID-19 vaccination is required for students ages 12 and older, and highly encouraged for all students. Staff are required to be vaccinated.

Vaccination is the best defense against the spread of COVID-19. Individuals are highly encouraged to be fully vaccinated against COVID, including boosters if eligible. Students age 12 and older are required to receive the COVID-19 vaccination as part of their childhood vaccination series to attend school. Visit for information about the vaccine and free vaccination sites across the city.

Visit this link for more information about all immunizations required to attend school.

5. We will continue investing in our HVAC systems to support well-ventilated spaces at every school. This includes state-of-the-art HEPA filters in classrooms and air quality sensors throughout the building.

We made more than $24 million in HVAC upgrades to improve filtration and ventilation in every DCPS building. Mobile units with a medical-grade HEPA filter clean the air in classrooms. We also have UV lights in places like the bathroom to keep any germs present from replicating. MERV-13 filters in building-wide systems help reduce the type of air particles that even enter the building.

6. Families should screen their children for symptoms at home.

Practice healthy routines with your student like staying home and get tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms. Schools will not conduct daily health screenings upon arrival.

Isolation and Quarantine Guidance

It is important families and staff follow the following guidance should they test positive for COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who tests positive.

Tested positive for COVID-19
and has mild or no symptoms.
Begin to isolate for at least 5 days.Students can return to school beginning on day 6, IF they have been fever free for 24 hours without the aid of medication and symptoms are improving.

Students MUST wear a mask while at school until day 10 from their positive test result or when symptoms began, whichever is earlier.
Tested positive for COVID-19
and has severe or critical symptoms
or is immunocompromised.
Begin to isolate for at least 10 days.Students may return to school after day 10, IF they have been fever free for 24 hours without the aid of medication and symptoms are improving.   

If a student will be out for longer than ten days, families will need to provide a doctor’s note to their school for the absence to be excused. 
Was identified as a close contact
of an individual who tested positive
for COVID-19
No quarantine is required. Students are encouraged to wear a mask at school until day 10 from their exposure. No quarantine is required. 

COVID-19 Testing

To support a safe return for the upcoming school year, all students and staff will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test for the first day of school.

  •  Schools will distribute COVID-19 test kits on Tuesday, August 23, and Friday, August 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., as well as on Wednesday, August 24, and Thursday, August 25 from 12:00 to 5:30 p.m.
  • 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.
  • Families can also pick up a test kit from any District COVID Center, located in all 8 wards. You can find the COVID Center locations and hours here:

Visit this link to learn more about how to have a safe return for the first day of school, including how to take a rapid test and share your results with your school.

Buildings and Facilities

As part of our layered mitigation strategy against COVID-19, DCPS has made HVAC enhancements, strengthened our cleaning protocols, and conducted building readiness reviews to monitor implementation of our health and safety measures. We want to ensure that students, families, and staff can let us know about any safety concerns in school buildings by accessing the COVID-19 Building Safety Hotline.

Indoor Air Quality

DCPS buildings are equipped with indoor air quality (IAQ) sensors that are continuously monitoring air quality in our schools. The results of the readings are being sent directly to an independent platform where the Department of General Services (DGS) utilizes a third party vendor, Setty and Associates, to monitor for events to be addressed by the facilities staff. These measurements help us understand how well ventilated our buildings are and how well the filtration is working. To learn more about these sensors, please review this IAQ explainer.

Safety in Our Schools

DCPS is committed to the safety and well-being of all students, staff, visitors, and community members. Central to this commitment is the development of robust guidance for emergency planning, response, and compliance. As part of our planning and response, DCPS ensures all schools are compliant with safety drill requirements. Safety drills allow schools to practice and prepare so that systems are in place in the event of a real emergency. DCPS Central Services works with schools to support drill implementation and compliance.

The following drills are required with corresponding frequency:

Drill TypeFrequency
Fire DrillTwo fire drills during the first month of each school year; one each month thereafter.A total of 10 drills per school year
Alert DrillOnce per school year  
Earthquake DrillOnce per school year  
500 ft Evacuation /Relocation DrillOnce per school year  
Lockdown DrillsTwice per school year  
Reverse EvacuationOnce per school year  
Shelter-in-PlaceOnce per school year  
Severe Weather Safe Area DrillOnce per school year

Visiting our Schools

  • Family Access at Student Arrival and Dismissal: To ensure safe school operations, parent/guardians are not permitted into buildings during arrival and dismissal.
  • Visitor Policy: To ensure safe school operations, community members and families are not permitted into school buildings without an appointment. Government identification is required for entry.

Page updated: August 17, 2022