Please note that we will revisit our testing plan monthly and may reduce testing frequency based on the trajectory of the virus and/or percent of GDS’s population that is vaccinated. (Updated 9.2.2021)
As part of our COVID-19 prevention strategy—especially in light of the delta variant—GDS is currently requiring that all unvaccinated/partially vaccinated individuals in our community participate in weekly PCR COVID-19 testing. This will continue while COVID-19 transmission in our community is moderate (yellow) or substantial (red), based on the DC Department of Health's Level of Community Spread metrics. We may reduce frequency of testing as cases in the metro DC region decline and/or as more of our community members get vaccinated. NOTE: Below, unvaccinated refers to anyone who is not fully vaccinated, meaning not more than two weeks past their final dose of the vaccine (1st dose of Johnson & Johnson or 2nd dose of Pfizer or Moderna), with vaccination cards on file in Magnus.
Vaccination Requirement: As a reminder, GDS is requiring all eligible students and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 15 or within three months of turning 12. (Read more.)  Students are fully vaccinated when they have complete vaccination cards on file in Magnus and are two weeks past their last dose of the vaccine. 

GDS will be testing unvaccinated individuals weekly and vaccinated students biweekly: We will require weekly COVID-testing of unvaccinated students or staff. This means weekly testing for children in PK–6th grade and any 7th graders under age 12. Vaccinated students will be tested biweekly. Students who have had COVID in the past 90 days do not need to participate in testing. Please alert nurses@gds.org of this information.

Monday Holidays: When there is a Monday holiday or a day when testing is not possible due to inclement weather, that group will simply not get tested unless case rates are in the substantial range, the nurse feels it necessary, or it has been more than two weeks since the last test.

We require PCR tests: On-campus testing will be pooled tests, allowing multiple samples to be processed at the same time by CIAN Diagnostics. If there’s a positive result in the pool, the pools will be reflexed to determine who had the positive sample.

Community Commitments: Our testing program is only a single part of our safety strategy and, while it will help to reduce the chance of an outbreak, it will not eliminate the possibility of infection or spread. We still rely on all families to avoid risky situations and to follow our community commitments

Kids who struggle with testing: While we know COVID testing at school is not ideal, testing is an important part of our COVID response. Most children are able to complete COVID testing with their homerooms and advisories with little issue. If a child resists the testing with their class (showing extreme anxiety, crying, etc.), we will not force them to test during the day; rather, we will call the family and ask that the parent/guardian bring the child for a test later in the day or seek outside testing.

Don’t get tested on campus if: Your child should not get tested at GDS if any of the following are true:
  • Your child is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Your child has recently been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 and needs a follow up test (regardless of vaccination status).
  • You are looking for pre- or post-travel testing. (Our pooled testing cannot provide individual results unless someone in the pool tests positive.)
  • Your child has been advised to quarantine or self-isolate.
  • Your child has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days. (Reach out to our school health team for additional details).

Testing costs and who pays: GDS will pay for on-campus testing of those who are required to get tested on campus. Individuals who test off campus are responsible for paying for the cost of testing themselves.

Getting test results: No news is good news when it comes to COVID testing at GDS. We will alert any family with a positive test result or if a result is missing. Because results are pooled, we are not able to provide individual results. If you require or prefer individual test results, we encourage you to look at our off-campus testing options instead.

Off-Campus Testing Locations: Families preferring to have their children tested off campus may do so provided they get a PCR test and send their results to nurses@gds.org at the same cadence as regular GDS testing. If you choose to get tested outside of GDS, you may opt to use one of the options below. Please note that GDS is providing these resources as a courtesy and cannot vouch for any of the programs below. Any costs related to off-campus COVID testing are the sole responsibility of the family.

County, City, or State-Testing
At Home Testing Options (advanced planning required)
COVID testing with your Insurer
Corporate Testing Locations

Limited Use of Rapid Antigen Tests: The school may allow rapid antigen testing in limited circumstances. Because the school cannot administer tests, it is the family’s responsibility to pick up, pay for, and administer the test and to report the test results to the school (with a picture of the results). When rapid antigens are permitted, we require two within a 24–36 hour period. Please note that DOH requires that a rapid antigen test taken related to symptoms be confirmed with a PCR test BEFORE an individual returns to campus.

Circumstances in which we may allow a rapid antigen include the following:
  • As a back-up option for individuals participating in the weekly testing at GDS, if they miss their testing date and we cannot reschedule them. (For instance, they’re scheduled to get tested on a Wednesday and aren’t in school on Wednesday.)
  • Testing of guests to the school during times of high community transmission.
  • Following travel, when combined with PCR testing.
  • In some cases, the nurses may recommend a rapid antigen test while waiting for a PCR test result.

Other times when testing may be recommended: As we follow DC DOH guidance, we may occasionally recommend testing, for instance, if we have several cases on campus or when a vaccinated individual is a close contact of a person who later tests positive for COVID-19. Note that the school health team will advise whether these tests can be conducted on campus or not and what sort of test to get.

Missed Tests: While we expect eligible students to get tested weekly, we also understand that sometimes life happens. If your child misses a test, make-up tests may be available on campus until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. On other days, we ask that you take your child for a make-up PCR test at one of the regional testing centers. We will allow one missed test during the course of the year provided that there are no more than two weeks between tests. 

Proof from Outside Tests: When an outside test is required or obtained, the nurses need:
  • Full name of person who was tested
  • Date of birth
  • Date of test
  • Test result
  • Type of test

If you have permission from the school to run an at-home rapid antigen, a time and date stamped picture of the test results should be sent to the school, with the name of the test manufacturer present. Results should be sent to nurses@gds.org.

Fall 2021 Testing Plan (Updated 9.2.2021)

Our current plan for the fall is as follows:

Group Testing Info How to Register
All unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students and employees Test before returning to school and no earlier than 9/2. GDS is offering on-campus testing on 9/3. If you prefer to get tested off campus, see details above. Sign up for return to school testing on September 3.
PK-4th graders Test weekly as part of the homeroom. 

Sign the consent form for PK–8th grade weekly student testing

5th-6th graders Test weekly with the advisory.
7th-8th graders

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students test weekly. 

Vaccinated students test biweekly during PE or Study Hall (organized by the PE team).

9th-12th graders

Unvaccinated and partially vaccinated students test weekly. 

Vaccinated students test biweekly:

  • Last Name A through I: Weeks of 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, 10/25, 11/8, 11/22, 12/6
  • Last Name J through Z: Weeks of 9/20, 10/4, 10/18, 11/1, 11/15, 11/29, 12/13

Sign the consent form for 9th-12th grade student testing


Read more:

Testing will be available at the times and locations listed below.

GDS Employees
  • All GDS employees must get tested sometime between September 13 and 15. 
  • GDS employees who are not fully vaccinated must get tested weekly.
  • Fully vaccinated employees must also get tested biweekly (every other week) and may get tested weekly (at most).


Times when HS students can get tested: