Message from Principal Hedlund

Dr. Phyllis HedlundPrincipal Newsletters

Good afternoon,

Thank you to all the families that participated in our information sesssions this Monday and last. Your feedback is informing school procedures, and I left yesterday’s meeting with some important action steps. One of them was to provide an abbreviated version of DCPS Reopen Strong website  to address the commonly asked questions at Shepherd. For that, please see below. Students will all receive a folder on the first day of school with carpool/walker signage, a Covid-19 testing permission form that covers asymptomatic and symptomatic testing, a dismissal preference form and an Ask Ask Look protocol log for students in grades PK 3-2. Thanks so much for your patience. I hope this answers many of your question, but please keep asking as you think of the opening of school. I look forward to seeing many of you on Friday.

Phyllis Hedlund

Principal/Shepherd Elementary


· All students and staff must always wear non-medical face coverings or face masks while in the school, and while participating in any school related activities regardless of vaccination status.

· Masks may be removed for eating or drinking.

· Masks must be removed for naptime.

· To be effective, masks must be worn correctly. Masks should cover the nose and mouth and fit snugly against the sides of the face.

· A mask does not substitute for physical distancing.

Visitor guidance 

We will continue to limit visitors to our schools. All visitors must be pre-approved, confirm completion of a health assessment, and always wear a mask on school grounds.  

Student arrival and dismissal 

Families are not allowed to enter the building for student drop-off and pick up, except for students with a parent/guardian escort as a component of a written safety plan. 

Health Screening – “Ask, Ask, Look” Symptom Screening

DCPS is utilizing the “Ask, Ask, Look” protocol developed by OSSE to support daily screening for staff and students.

Steps Conducted at Home:

DCPS expects that families implement the “Ask, Ask, Look” protocol daily, before departing for school, as follows:

1) ASK: Parents or guardians should ask about and/or inspect their child for:

a. Any one Red Flag symptom:

i. New or worsening cough

ii. Shortness of breath/difficulty breathing

iii. New loss or taste or smell

iv. Fever (measured or subjective)

b. At least two of the following symptoms:

i. Chills

ii. Congestion or runny nose

iii. Sore throat

iv. Diarrhea

v. Nausea or vomiting

vi. An unusual amount of tiredness

vii. Headache

viii. Muscle or body aches

Please note: if the symptoms are related to a chronic medical condition and the healthcare provider has submitted written or verbal documentation that the symptoms are not COVID-19, the student should not be excluded based on those symptoms.

2) ASK: Parents or guardians should consider whether their child has recently been in close contact within the past 10 days with a person who is confirmed to have COVID-19.

– Students identified as a close contact are required to quarantine for 10 days. Students may end quarantine early and return to school on day 8 if they take the following steps: Take a PCR COVID-19 on day 5 or later AND receive a negative PCR test result AND do not develop symptoms at any point during quarantine. (Student is eligible to attend school once required quarantine and/or testing has been completed.)

3) LOOK: Parents or guardians should visually inspect their child for signs of illness which could include flushed cheeks, rapid or difficulty breathing (without recent physical activity), unusual amount of tiredness, or extreme fussiness.

Determination related to staying home or going to school: If the answer is “yes” to any of the above, or if the symptom is attributable to medial provider diagnosed pre-existing condition that has not been cleared, the student must stay home, and the family should contact the child’s healthcare provider to determine if testing is needed.

Steps Conducted at School:

Upon arrival at school, each student will be expected to take the following steps:

1) Use Hand Sanitizer: Students will be directed to a hand sanitizer station.

2) Put on a Face Mask (as needed): Students who arrive without the appropriate face covering will receive a mask from staff and place it on their face, properly covering their nose and mouth.

3) Wait in Arrival Line: Students are to maintain 3 feet distance and proceed to health screening station upon arrival.

4) Confirm Completion of “Ask, Ask, Look” at Home, OR Completion of Protocol at School:

All students wishing to enter the school should provide verbal confirmation of completion of the Ask, Ask, Look protocol at the door. In instances where students are unable to provide verbal confirmation at the door, the Ask, Ask, Look Log should be utilized.

In all cases, the school will visually inspect each student for signs of illness in alignment with the Ask, Ask, Look protocol.

If at entry a student fails the Ask, Ask, Look or visual screening (appears symptomatic), the student would not be allowed to come into school and would leave with parent/guardian, or if unable to travel safely alone, will be escorted to the Health Isolation Room (HIR).

Covid-19 Testing

Starting SY 21-22, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education will oversee COVID-19 testing. Testing will be offered through Shield T3 Testing Program. Through this program, students will have three opportunities to receive COVID-19 tests should families elect. Students can participate in any or all options that are available to them.

– Option 1: Symptomatic testing

– Option 2: Routine asymptomatic testing

– Option 3: Consent for COVID-19 testing if your student is identified as a close contact of an individual with COVID-19 in the school setting

Consent forms are valid for one full academic school year unless families notify the designated contact person from their student’s school in writing that consent is revoked.

DCPS Symptomatic Student Testing:

DCPS follows OSSE’s student testing guidance. Shield T3 will provide saliva-based COVID-19 testing to individuals identified as having potential COVID-19 symptoms.

Students will need to have a signed consent form on file in order to have access to COVID-19 testing.

Asymptomatic Student COVID-19 Testing Protocol:

Students will be tested on site through OSSE’s asymptomatic testing program, which will support weekly testing of 10% of the unvaccinated student population attending in person

  • Students will need to have a signed consent form on file in order to have access to COVID-19 testing.

NOTE: Students who participate in asymptomatic testing should continue to come to school while awaiting results.

DC Health recommends that students should get tested for COVID-19 if anyone in their household has symptoms of COVID-19, even if the student does not have symptoms. All members of the household should be tested at the same time[1].

Per DC Health guidance, close contacts of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 must quarantine as follows:

  • Non-vaccinated or partially vaccinated close contacts:
    • Students are required to quarantine at least 7 days. Students can return to school on day 8 if they take the following steps:
      • Get tested for COVID-19 on day 5 or laterAND receive a negative PCR test result
      • Do not develop symptoms at any point during quarantine AND continue to self-monitor for symptoms until 14 days after the last exposure, self-isolate immediately and follow-up with your health care provider for testing.
      • If a student does not meet the above criteria, they must quarantine for 10 days and continue to monitor for symptoms until 14 days after the last exposure, self-isolate immediately and follow-up with your health care provider for testing.

Student Re-entry Protocols

DCPS requires supporting documentation in order for students to return to school pursuant to DCMR 22-B209, which establishes a standard for requiring documentation for re-entry after being diagnosed with a communicable disease.

In the case that a student is confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, the following re-entry criteria apply:

If symptomatic, a student may return only after:

  • At least 24 hours after the fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication (e.g., Motrin, Tylenol) and respiratory symptoms have improved; AND
  • At least 10 days* after symptoms first appeared, whichever is later

*Note: Some individuals, including those with severe illness, may have longer quarantine periods per DC Health or their healthcare provider.

If asymptomatic, a student may return only after 10 days from the date of a positive test.

If ending quarantine early, must meet above mentioned criteria, have proper documentation from DC Health or medical provider to return.

DCPS requires documentation from a healthcare provider or contact tracing force confirming that the student has met criteria to return after illness for positive individuals. It is important to submit appropriate school health forms to health suite personnel to update the students medical record and the medical flag/chronic conditions list.

Notifications about COVID-19 cases within your school 

Families will receive a notification if someone tests positive for COVID-19 within their student’s classroom and within their school.   

Due to medical privacy concerns, families will not be informed which individual(s) tested positive. 

Quarantine attendance policy  

  • Students should stay home if they have COVID-19 symptoms, are a close contact of a positive case, or as recommended based on the travel guidance. 
  • For students who are required to quarantine but not at the direction of DCPS (e.g., because a family member tested positive for COVID-19 and they were contacted by a contact tracer), the parent/guardian must provide written documentation of the quarantine. The written note must include the date of COVID-19 exposure; the length of time the student has been directed to quarantine by a medical professional or contact tracer; and the name, organization, and contact information of the medical professional or contract tracer.   
  • Please note, students required to quarantine at the direction of DCPS (e.g., because a teacher tested positive for COVID-19) do not need to provide documentation. 

Quarantine and classroom instruction 

  • If a teacher is unable to provide in-person instruction, DCPS will first employ substitutes to continue in-person learning for the class.  
  • Students who are required to quarantine will be provided with a DCPS device for learning at home. Course content will be available via canvas for students learning at home. Instruction may be fully virtual, a mix of simultaneous in-person and virtual instruction, or self-guided, depending upon the number of students quarantining and the availability of the teacher. Families will be informed about when and how virtual instruction will be provided.

Travel Guidance  

  • Unvaccinated individuals who travel outside of the DC-Maryland-Virginia area are recommended to self-quarantine upon return. Three to five days after returning, individuals should get a COVID-19 test. If the test is negative, the self-quarantine can end after the seventh day. If no test is performed, unvaccinated individuals should self-quarantine for 10 days. 
  • We will continue to evaluate COVID-19 case levels and vaccination rates and determine whether DCPS will modify operations around the Thanksgiving and Winter holidays. We will provide an update in October on these considerations.