• COVID-19
  • Testing
GDS has a COVID-19 testing program as part of the return to campus. Testing is required of all students and employees participating in in-person, indoor programming. Baseline testing was conducted by Children’s National Medical Center in October and November, and ongoing pooled testing is being conducted by CIAN Diagnostics. GDS students and employees will be tested weekly 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.)
Our testing program is a screening program and is meant for asymptomatic individuals only. If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, 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

How to Get Tested


CIAN Diagnostics




Registration Deadline


January 25-March 19

Regular school day testing

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. on Tuesdays for the following week 

LMS Locker Room or HS Library Conference Rooms

Friday, April 2 PK-7th Grade 8a.m.-5 p.m. 12pm on Friday, March 19 HS Forum and 1st floor classrooms
Saturday, April 3 HS Group A 8a.m.-5 p.m. 12pm on Friday, March 19 HS Forum and 1st floor classrooms
Monday, April 5 8th Grade and HS Group B 8a.m.-5 p.m. 12pm on Friday, March 19 HS Forum and 1st floor classrooms
April 5-April 30

Regular school day testing

8a.m.-5 p.m.

12 p.m. on Tuesdays for the following week 

LMS Locker 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.)

HS Schedule Shifts and Testing
There are a few weeks when the HS Schedule shifts. You do not need to anything. We will shift the testing schedule for students automatically.

Testing originally scheduled for will shift to
Tuesday, 2/9 (MLK Social Justice Teach In) Wednesday, 2/10
Monday, 2/15 (President's Day) Tuesday, 2/16
Tuesday, 2/16 Wednesday, 2/17
Thursday, 3/18 Wednesday, 3/17
Friday, 3/19 (Spring Break) Thursday, 3/18
Thursday, 4/29 Wednesday, 4/28
Friday, 4/30 (Community Day) Thursday, 4/29

Scheduling Shifts for LS Full Days
Once we know the LS schedule for full day programming, we will reach out to reschedule class test times. Families need not do anything other than register for the weekly testing.

MS Testing Week of 2/15 
Middle school advisors have shifted their test dates to allow students who normally get tested on Monday to test later in the week.

Click to see each image larger.


Spring 2021 Testing

Q: What happens when testing is scheduled to occur on a day when the campus is closed due to inclement weather?
Read more about our testing on snow days.

Q: Is testing only once a month now?
No. Testing is still weekly. Because 95% of our community is getting tested at the same time each week, we are allowing families to register for the whole month with one button push.

Q: What do I need to know about schedule changes?
With the Lower School move to full-day programming, we will work with teachers to reschedule homeroom test times. You will not need to do anything. We will automatically make the change.

At the High School, there are a few schedule shifts. Students will still get tested during the same free period or flex time on the day of the shift. These dates include:

Testing scheduled dates and new dates:
Tuesday, 2/9 (MLK Social Justice Teach In) → Wednesday, 2/10
Monday, 2/15 (President's Day) → Tuesday, 2/16
Tuesday, 2/16 → Wednesday, 2/17
Thursday, 3/18 → Wednesday, 3/17
Friday, 3/19 (Spring Break) → Thursday, 3/18
Thursday, 4/29 → Wednesday, 4/28
Friday, 4/30 (Community Day) → Thursday, 4/29

Q: If we get tested off-campus following travel, do we also need to get tested on campus?
No. You only need to get tested one time. Send your off-campus results to our school nurses. Learn more about travel guidelines.

Q: Do I need to sign up for make-up tests?
Not unless you need a make-up test.

Q: CIAN didn’t have my child’s form (or for staff, my form). Why not and what do I need to do? 
There are several possibilities: 

  1. We send the list of registered individuals to CIAN on Tuesdays. If you selected a time or changed your test time after Tuesday, your name wasn’t included or may be in a different stack of test forms.
  2. If you think you registered, double check your cart to make sure you went all the way through to the submit button.
  3. It could be human error. Thanks for your patience.

The testers may ask that you/your child take a few more minutes to update the forms. This should not take long. For younger children, we can provide the information to CIAN on their behalf.

A Case in our Community

Q. What is considered by GDS to be "close contact"?
The CDC definition of "close contact" is anyone who spends a cumulative 15 minutes within six feet during a 24-hour period. In an abundance of caution, upon learning of a new case in our community, GDS recommends 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, 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?
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.

For individuals exposed to COVID-19, either through a close contact with COVID-19 OR travel to a high-risk area, the quarantine period is 10–14 days. 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.

In December, the CDC announced a 10-day quarantine recommendation for anyone exposed to COVID-19. The new recommendation is intended to minimize the risk of transmission while also minimizing the burden of quarantine. Recent DC Department of Health guidance allows for schools to continue to implement the more stringent 14-day quarantine requirement. Fourteen days of quarantine remains the most effective strategy for decreasing the transmission of COVID-19.

Testing at GDS

Q. Why did you switch to testing with CIAN Diagnostics?

  • Minimal paperwork. Beginning in December, they provide our families with access to their patient portal to provide consent for testing online and to quickly provide individual results.
  • Testing during the school day and throughout the week. CIAN sends several staff to work on campus at GDS during the school day to provide minimal interruption to families' schedules. Testing is incorporated into students’ weekly schedules.  
  • No more deep nasopharyngeal tests. CIAN conducts pooled testing using anterior-nares nasal swabs. These swabs only enter the nose about 1 centimeter.
  • More frequent testing. CIAN’s pooled testing model and lab capacity mean that we can test students and staff weekly during times when COVID-19 is prevalent in the DC metro region, thereby providing an extra layer of protection.

Q. What is pooled testing?
Individual tests are combined, or "pooled," to identify whether someone in the group tests positive. If there is a positive pooled test, CIAN Diagnostics does "reflex" testing to determine who in the pool tested positive.

Q. Who makes up the pools?

  • Lower School: Homerooms (including teachers and teaching assistants)
  • Middle School: Advisories (including adults most commonly in that advisory)
  • High School: Students sharing a free period (with high schoolers without free periods being tested before or after school)
  • High School Teachers: Teachers will be pooled with students who have the same free period.
  • All other staff: Staff will select a common time for their COVID-19 tests or may be grouped into a pool based on their job function or location. 
  • Contractors: Bus drivers, Meriwether Godsey dining personnel, and MCS cleaning personnel will be included in our weekly testing protocols.

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. Who will accompany my child's homeroom to the testing site?
For LMS students, in most cases, your child’s homeroom teacher or teaching assistant will accompany your child to the testing location as they will also be part of the same testing pool. In some cases, a member of the Risk Response Team may accompany the students instead. HS students will move to their testing sites on their own.

Q. Can I accompany my young child to the testing?
In some cases, some of our younger students may not be comfortable getting tested with their peers. We will not force a child to get tested. If your child is not willing to get tested with their school cohort, there will be two times weekly for you to accompany your child for testing, and you will be asked to sign up. You may also opt to get your child tested outside of school (please see below).

Q. What sort of communication will I get after my child's COVID-19 test?
No news is good news! Families will immediately receive a call as soon as we are aware of a positive case. We also hope to launch CIAN’s COVID-19 app, which should also alert families when there is a result available. We anticipate getting results from testing within 24–48 hours after the tests are completed.

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?
You may choose to have your child tested elsewhere, however, testing is a requirement for all students and staff participating in on-campus programming, and we require that the staff or student get tested at the same interval (within 1 day before or after) as their cohort. If test results are delayed in returning, please share confirmation that the test was conducted with our nurses to avoid delay in your child’s return to school.
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
  • 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 10–14 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 10–14 days. They will also receive guidance from the DC Department of Health.

Q. Who pays for testing?
GDS covers the full cost of testing with CIAN Diagnostics. For baseline testing conducted by Children’s National Medical Center in October and November, Children's will bill each individual's insurance and will bill GDS for anyone who is not insured. If you receive a bill for testing, please reach out to RiskResponse@gds.org.

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.