WASHINGTON (WDVM) — Mayor Muriel Bowser announced additional actions the district is taking to combat the COVID-19 pandemic while also trying to keep as many students in schools as possible.

To combat this surge in COVID-19 cases, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that residents 65 and older can now pick up free rapid tests at six senior wellness centers. Also, health officials ask residents not to take a PCR test if their rapid is positive.

“We’ve talked a lot about balancing resources in the community, so that’s just taking up another resource that isn’t necessary,” said Patrick Ashley, Senior Deputy Director at DC Health Department. “You should treat that as positive, and go home and isolate.”

Also, moving forward, anytime there is at least a week break from school, the district will distribute rapid tests to all public and charter schools before students return. Beginning this week, the city will distribute one test kit per week to kindergarten and pre-K students and staff. Those tests will be available by Friday each week and a negative test is required to return on Monday.

“We learned a lot from what we did last week, and we will not be using instructional days to stand up the program moving forward,” said Dr. Christina Grant, DCPS Acting Superintendent.

Planning also is underway to launch a new test-to-stay model to allow students who are in close contact and not vaccinated the ability to take a series of rapid tests to remain in-person learning.

“Test-to-stay really applies to those children who may be exposed to a positive case, a positive classmate in particular, and aren’t vaccinated,” said Bowser. “But if they’re vaccinated, test-to-stay doesn’t even come into play.

For the remainder of the school year, schools will also continue symptomatic testing and random asymptomatic testing at 20 percent, with the ability to test up to 30 percent.