WASHINGTON — DC Public Schools has announced they will require all students, staff and visitors to wear face coverings until further notice, as stated in DCPS's reopening portal. The schools will fully re-open to all students for in-person learning starting Aug. 30.
The decision falls in line with some recommendations from experts. The American Academy of Pediatrics urged schools to update their masking policies in advance of the new school year. Specifically, the organization recommended all staff and students within school buildings, who are two years or older, wear face masks unless medical or developmental conditions prohibit their use.
The DCPS mask policy is included with other procedures the schools plan to enforce, such as enhanced cleaning protocols for high-touch surfaces, a daily allotment of PPE and hygiene supplies for all and space arrangements, wherein “students should be separated as far as possible,” the website specifies.
DCPS also has thought-out procedures for ventilation, stating that HVAC enhancements will allow for well-ventilated spaces at every school, including state-of-the-art HEPA filters in classrooms and air quality sensors throughout the building.
Students will also be expected to complete a daily health screening, however, temperature checks will not be required. Pre-K and Kindergarten students will also eat their meals in classrooms, while all other grades will eat in the cafeteria. Student and staff interactions will be minimized, but there will be no official cap for any grade.
"DCPS has been recognized as a national leader for the robust health and safety measures that allowed us to reopen all buildings this past winter," the website states, adding that they are looking to the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DC Health for guidance on COVID-19 school operations.
"We also highly encourage all students age 12 and older and all staff to get vaccinated as an additional layer of protection."
Just like AAP, the CDC agrees masks should still be worn in the upcoming school year by any person age 2 and above who is not fully vaccinated. However, the agency has also announced that certain school districts may see fit to adopt universal mask requirements depending on local pandemic conditions.
DCPS also plans to continue offering virtual instruction this year, but only for a "limited number of students who meet medical eligibility requirements." The choice to go virtual will be based on documented medical conditions, the school system determined.