• COVID-19
  • Testing
Updated 4/7/2021
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. Ongoing, weekly pooled testing is being conducted by CIAN Diagnostics. GDS students and employees will be tested weekly (or twice weekly for HS students attending school four times weekly) during the school day. (Please note that students participating in GDS 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.
For the time being, we continue to require those who are vaccinated to participate in our testing program.

How to Get Tested


CIAN Diagnostics




Registration Deadline


Spring, 2021

Regular school day testing

8a.m.-5 p.m.

No longer required


LMS Locker Room or HS Library Conference Rooms

All appointments 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
Thursday, 4/29 Wednesday, 4/28
Friday, 4/30 (Community Day) Thursday, 4/29


Click to see each image larger.


Spring 2021 Testing

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: How often is testing?
LMS students and faculty/staff get tested weekly. HS students and faculty/staff should get tested once for every two days they are on campus.

Q: What do I need to know about schedule changes?
LMS teachers will make any changes for advisory or homeroom tests. HS students should adjust and get tested during free periods or before/after school.

Q: Do we need to get tested if fully vaccinated?
Yes, for the time being vaccinated people should still participate.

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. Make sure to check the timeline; PCR tests are required.

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. Upon learning of a new case in our community, GDS will work with the DC Department of Health on contact tracing and quarantine.

Q. Are you sending the whole class home?
Not necessarily. GDS will engage in contact tracing in partnership with the DC Department of Health to determine who is considered a close contact.

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 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 do quarantine times differ?
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 will differ based on when the person was exposed. The quarantine will 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 2019, 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. Individuals are still expected to self-monitor for 14 days.

Testing at GDS

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 Faculty & Staff: Faculty/staff will be pooled based on test time and location.
  • Contractors: Bus drivers, Meriwether Godsey dining personnel, and MCS cleaning personnel will be included in our weekly testing protocols.

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. 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, parents may accompany the child for testing between 3:45–4:45 p.m. daily. 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 generally receive results from testing about 24 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 may be 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 via This Week with GDS 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, which can be found as part of the guidance on the frequently updated OSSE COVID-19 Guidance and Resources page, following a positive test.

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 following exposure, based on both DOH and GDS need. DOH may release a child from quarantine before GDS allows a return. They will also receive guidance from the DC Department of Health. Read more »

Q. Who pays for testing?
GDS covers the full cost of testing with CIAN Diagnostics. If you received a bill from the testing with Children’s National Medical Center in October or November, please reach out to RiskResponse@gds.org for next steps.

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?
Ongoing testing will take place at school as part of the school day. Baseline testing following a return to school following a vacation will be scheduled in advance.

Q. If I receive a negative test, can I skip the quarantine requirements 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 designated period of time following exposure to a close contact.