Operating Safe Facilities

Starting Wednesday, March 16, and consistent with the latest health guidance and the current low levels in DC, masks will be optional for students, staff, and visitors in DC Public Schools, DCPS offices, and on OSSE-DOT transportation. Read more here.

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.

HVAC Enhancements

These enhancements allow for well-ventilated spaces at every school, including state-of-the-art HEPA filters in classrooms and air quality sensors throughout the building.

We invested 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 reduce the type of air particles that even enter the building.

DCPS is committed to the maintenance of these enhancements and has contracted with an ASHRAE mechanical engineer, the national organization for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Watch a conversation with our professional engineer about air quality in the classroom and at school.

School HVAC Reports

As part of the Building Readiness Checklist, all schools received an HVAC Enhancement Report. To review a specific school report, please check here.

School Air Quality Reports

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.

DCPS will post these IAQ reports monthly to share with our school communities.

Building Readiness

DCPS is committed to a safe and successful return to in-person learning for our students and staff. DCPS’ work to prepare for a strong reopening is grounded in prioritizing the health and safety of our entire school community. Using guidance from DC Health, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and union partners, we developed a set of building readiness standards that meet public health requirements to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

This School Building Readiness Checklist is intended to ensure that DCPS facilities meet those stringent standards.
School specific lists for the 2021-2022 School Year are available here.

The building readiness checklist includes the following items:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hygiene Supplies: Schools have the necessary general and enhanced PPE and hygiene supplies and are prepared to utilize the standardized inventory monitoring protocol established by central office to ensure timely supply replenishment.
  • Cleaning Supplies and Procedures: Schools have the necessary cleaning supplies and are prepared to utilize the standardized inventory monitoring protocol established by central office to ensure timely supply replenishment. All cleaning supplies are from the EPA-registered list in the CDC guidance. School custodial staff have been trained to implement enhanced and deep cleaning protocols.
  • Socially Distant Space Arrangement: Schools are set up to facilitate social distancing among staff and students, using resources provided by central office.
  • Signage: Schools have COVID-19 health signage (in English and other languages) posted in arrival spaces, hallways, and classrooms. Signage will address key COVID-19 public health and safety practices.
  • Plumbing Systems: School plumbing work orders related to bathrooms, sinks, and water supply systems are prioritized so that schools are ready to welcome students and staff.
  • HVAC Enhancements: Schools are equipped with either a Direct Outside Air System (DOAS) with MERV-13/MERV-14 filters or High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters.

Cleaning Protocols

All schools received deep cleaning prior to the start of the school year. Additionally, deep cleaning will continue to occur during scheduled school breaks and as needed, per DC Health guidance, related to COVID-19 exposure in the building. School custodial staff have been trained to implement these protocols. Cleaning supplies are from the EPA-registered list in the CDC guidance for reducing transmission of COVID-19.

Our schools will continue to receive daily enhanced cleaning by custodial staff. Enhanced Cleaning will be the daily standard cleaning routines custodial staff complete with particular focus on all frequently touched surfaces in common areas and restrooms, including but not limited to doorknobs and push/pulls, light switches, elevator buttons, tables, sink faucets, toilets, chairs, drinking fountains and any other common area hard surfaces.

page updated: November 22, 2021