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Entire 6th grade at one DC middle school in quarantine after COVID exposure

DCPS confirms 129 students are now learning virtually.

WASHINGTON — According to DC Public Schools, the entire sixth-grade class of Johnson Middle School are home on quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus. DCPS said all 129 students have returned to virtual learning for the duration of their quarantine. 

WUSA9 broke the news to several parents at dismissal Wednesday who chose not to share their names. 

"It's only going to get worse,” said one parent. "This is only the second week of school.”   

“That is not good, and they should have shared that information with all the parents because people are already scared,” said another woman.

Ambrose Lane, the chair and founder of the Health Alliance Network and the Black Coalition Against COVID, advised the Washington Teacher’s Union on DCPS safety protocols. Lane said the quarantine raises several issues since DCPS COVID policy states if a student is 3-6 feet apart, wearing a mask and in a classroom with a HEPA filter they would not be considered close contacts of a person who contracted the virus and should not have to quarantine. 

Lane questioned if classes at all schools can effectively socially distance. 

Is there enough staff to ensure students are not gathering and are wearing masks properly? Are enough classes equipped with HEPA filters?

WUSA9 posed these same questions to DCPS, but did not get a response.

“It begs the question whether or not we went back to school too soon, and whether or not they needed to build some more infrastructure," Lane asked. “I do know that the protocol is that if, if a student is tested positive, the class the class is notified.”  

However, according to the DCPS COVID-19 policy, not all students in that class need to quarantine because of what school leaders call "enhanced mitigation strategies."

According to DC Health, there are 472 COVID cases across DCPS. A school spokesperson said that represents 37 schools with a total of 965 students and staff currently in quarantine.   

WUSA9 also checked with our neighboring public school systems. Fairfax County Public School reports 181 on quarantine, Fauquier County has 443 and a spokesperson with Montgomery County Public Schools said more than 1,000 students and staff are in quarantine.

DCPS would not tell WUSA9 about specific safety measures at Johnson Middle but we’re told all students who are quarantined are learning virtually.

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