• COVID-19
  • Testing
Updated 11.15.2020

One element of our response to COVID-19 is a COVID testing program with required participation of all students and staff returning to on campus programming.
Phase 1 (October-November) included baseline testing of all individuals prior to return to in-person, indoor programming and was conducted at GDS by Children’s National Medical Center at Georgetown Day School.
Phase 2 (December-Mid-Winter) will involve weekly pool testing of students and staff, with students tested during the school day.  (Please note that students participating in virtual campus do not need to get tested until they are ready to return in person.) For this testing phase, we will be working with CIAN diagnostics. Students and staff in the LMS will be individually tested with their homeroom or advisory cohorts. HS students will be tested by (and during) free periods. Students without free periods will receive additional information on next steps. The individual tests will be combined, or pooled, to identify whether or not someone in the cohort tests positive. If there is a positive pooled test, we will engage in "reflex" testing, to determine who in the pool tested positive. 
Our testing program is a screening program and is meant for asymptomatic, non-quarantined individuals only. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have been instructed to quarantine, including following travel, please contact your health care provider and do not come to campus. Testing does not in any way decrease the need for masking, physical distancing, and hand washing.
PLEASE NOTE: The How to Get Tested Section below will be updated by 11/22 to reflect the process with our new testing vendor.

How to Get Tested - Note: This section is being updated.


CIAN Diagnostics




Registration Deadline


December 2-4*

All staff

Students in PK-7th grade, HS students in Group A

8:30a.m.-5:30 p.m. on December 2 and 3

8a.m.-5 p.m. on December 4

12 p.m. on Monday, 11/30

(choose one day)

HS Gym

December 7*

8th graders and HS Students in Group B

4 p.m.-7 p.m.

12 p.m. on Thursday, 12/3

HS Gym

December 7-17

Regular school day testing begins

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. on Thursdays for the following week 

LMS Band Room or HS Library Conference Rooms

January 7 and 14

Staff who will be working on campus prior to 1/21

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. Friday, 12/18 for 1/7

12 p.m. Monday, 1/11 for 1/14

LMS Band Room

January 19*

All staff

Students in PK-6th grade, 8th graders, HS students in Group B

8a.m.-7 p.m.

12 p.m. Thursday, 1/14

HS Gym

January 21*

7th graders and HS Students in Group A

4 p.m.-7 p.m.

12 p.m. on Thursday, 1/14

HS Gym

January 22

Make Up Testing

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. on Tuesday, 1/19

LMS Band Room

January 25-March 5

Regular school day testing begins

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. on Thursdays for the following week 

LMS Band Room or HS Library Conference Rooms

* These dates require family participation. All other dates are embedded in the school day. (Please note that times and dates are subject to change.)


Questions we commonly receive when a new case is reported within our community:

Q. What is considered, by GDS, to be close contact?

The CDC definition of close contact specifies that anyone who spends a cumulative 15 minutes with six feet within a 24-hour period. Upon learning of a new case within the community, GDS, in an abundance of caution, will recommend quarantine for the entire classroom group and will subsequently work with the DC Department of Health on contact tracing.

Q. Are you sending the whole class home?
For quarantine and contact tracing purposes, if a student or classroom teacher tests positive, GDS will send the entire homeroom, advisory, or room where a student stayed for a class home to quarantine. In the event that that student or staff member rides the GDS bus or participates in extended day programming, they too will be sent home. GDS will engage in additional contact tracing in partnership with the DC Department of Health and may send additional individuals home as well.

Q. If I was notified that my child is a close contact and must quarantine for 14 days, do my other children also have to stay home?
No, they are not close contacts. They are welcome to come to school. If your child who is a close contact becomes symptomatic or tests positive, then your other children become close contacts of your symptomatic/positive child and must stay home.  

Q. Can I still bring my quarantined child to GDS for testing? 
No. we are set up to test only asymptomatic individuals who are not quarantining. Please consult your child's physician about testing. 

Q. Why does the person who tested positive have to quarantine for 10 days while my child has to quarantine for 14?
As outlined in Table 1 of the Health and Safety Guidance for Schools, 14-day quarantine is required in cases in which an individual may have been exposed to COVID-19, through either a close contact with COVID-19 or through travel to a high-risk area. This represents the “incubation time” for COVID-19, or the time by which individuals with an exposure to COVID-19 would be expected to develop symptoms if they had become infected.

For individuals with confirmed or suspected COVID-19, the quarantine period is 10 days. This represents the “infectious period:” for someone with COVID-19, or the time during which an individual is contagious to others.

Regarding testing at GDS

Q. What is the purpose of testing?
We are doing testing to track whether there are cases of COVID-19 in the GDS community. Testing alone is not enough to keep the community safe; we must continue to mask, distance, wash hands, and adhere to the community commitments. We know that testing will reduce the possibility of cases of COVID-19 on campus, but it will not eliminate the possibility of cases. 

Q. What if my child tested positive for COVID-19 in the past?
We will ask your child to participate in our baseline testing and for you to provide confirmation to our nurses of your child’s past positive COVID-19 test. We will not require additional regular testing for 3 months from the original test unless your child is demonstrating symptoms. Please reach out to the school nurses with questions (Elizabeth McDermott, RN or Connie Crowley, RN).

Q. Should I send my child to get tested at GDS if they wake up not feeling well or with any of the symptoms of COVID-19?
No. Testing at GDS is intended to reduce the possibility of asymptomatic or presymptomatic infection. If your child has any of the symptoms of COVID-19, please keep them home and contact their regular physician. Sending a child to school with symptoms of COVID-19 is a violation of our community commitments and will result in removal from in-person programming and possible additional consequences up to separation from our school community.

Q. What kind of testing will you be doing (nasal, saliva, etc.)? Updated 10/22/2020
For the testing with Children's, families will have a choice of nasopharyngeal or saliva testing. The Mayo Clinic has released a helpful video for supporting your child during COVID-19 nasal swab testing. Testing with CIAN Diagnostics will involve either an anterior nares or mid-turbinate nasal swab.

Q. What sort of communication will I get from Children's National after my child's COVID-19 test?
With COVID-19 tests, no news is good news! Children's National will reach out to anyone who tests positive as soon as the results are received. Children's will NOT reach out to individuals who test negative. They will confirm with GDS that all tests have come back. We will update this section with regards to CIAN's process by 11/22.

Q. What if I don’t want to get tested?
As part of our short-term plans, we are requiring anyone planning to return to in-person programming to participate in our testing plan. If you prefer not to have your child tested, they will remain in our virtual campus program.

Q. What if I don't want to get tested at school?
We allow families to elect to test off-campus as long as they adhere to our testing cadence, parallel to on-campus testing. GDS only accepts PCR testing. GDS will not pay for off-campus testing.

Q. Who at GDS sees the results of the testing?
The only members of the school community who will receive the results are the school nurses. GDS is also required to alert the Department of Health whenever there is a positive test and to engage in contact tracing. As part of contact tracing, your family’s privacy will be protected and your child’s name will not be shared as being the child who tested positive. We also ask that families not make conjectures around who may have tested positive or not.

Q. Will we know if someone tests positive?
Yes. If the individual who tested positive is determined to have been on campus when they would have been contagious, there are several levels of communication:

  • In the same cohort: Information about quarantine requirements and symptoms to watch for
  • In the same grade: Note that someone in the grade tested positive though not in your child’s cohort
  • At school: Notification about which building the positive test came back in AND note in the ongoing school communications via a dashboard

Q. What happens if someone tests positive?
The parents of the child who tests positive or the employee who tests positive will receive guidance from the DC Department of Health and a recommendation to contact your primary care physician. We will be following OSSE’s return to school criteria following a positive test.

The cohort will be moved to GDS Virtual Campus and required to quarantine for 14 days. They will also receive guidance from the DC Department of Health.

Anyone who is determined to be a close contact of the individual who tests positive will be moved to GDS Virtual Campus and required to quarantine for 14 days. They will also receive guidance from the DC Department of Health.

Q. Who pays for testing?
Children’s National Medical Center has advised that they will bill initial testing fees to each individual's insurance and will bill GDS for anyone who is not insured. If you subsequently receive a bill for the testing, please reach out to RiskResponse@gds.org. GDS covers the full cost of testing with CIAN Diagnostics.

Q. What if I can’t make it to GDS for testing?
If you cannot make it to GDS for testing and you intend to return to campus, we ask that you arrange your own testing, with the note that you will be responsible for any related fees. There are some requirements related to the testing:

  • We require PCR testing.
  • Tests must be conducted no more than 3 days prior to the return to campus.
  • Test results must be received within 48 hours and shared back to the school nurses.
  • Test results must be received by our school nurses prior to your child’s return to campus.

We recommend that you go to a county testing site or contact your pediatrician about the best way to get tested without taking up a well-child visit.

Click on one of the following for local COVID testing information:

Q. When will regular testing take place?
Initial baseline testing will be on campus outside of the school day. Ongoing testing will take place at school as part of the school day. 

Q. If I receive a negative test, can I skip the quarantine requirements related to travel or following close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19?
No. Per DC law, individuals must follow Department of Health mandates around quarantining and remain home for the full 14 days or for 72 hours plus a negative COVID test.