Atlanta, GA

Atlanta Public Schools shares new safety plan as COVID-19 cases surge

Gené Hunter

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(ATLANTA, Ga.) While navigating the recent omicron variant of COVID-19, Atlanta Public Schools (APS) made the decision to return to virtual learning from Jan. 3 through Jan. 7.

Now, schools in the district are returning to in-person learning and implementing new protocols and resources to keep students, faculty and staff safe in the buildings.

Before returning to physical classrooms, the district held testing events for students and staff Thursday, Jan. 6 and Friday, Jan. 7 as well as a vaccination event Saturday, Jan. 8.

Upon returning to in-person learning, APS is implementing mandatory staffing for staff members twice a week and student testing twice a week. The district is also implementing a new protocol, “test-to stay”, which is also known as a modified quarantine at all schools beginning Tuesday, Jan. 18.

The district further outlined each safety measure they’re going to take for students and staff including:

Test-to-stay

Test-to-stay protocols will provide additional and more immediate data for decision-making purposes and will give families an alternative to help keep their students in school.

When a positive case is identified in the school or workplace, persons who have been in close contact with that individual will be notified and evaluated for symptoms. If the close contact has consented to surveillance testing, they will have the opportunity to remain in school if they continue to test negative throughout the 10 days after their exposure and remain without symptoms. Individuals who test positive or develop symptoms will be sent home to isolate.

APS Family Testing

Viral Solutions is partnering with APS to operate a community PCR surveillance testing site at Frederick Douglass High School, located at 225 Hamilton E Holmes Dr NW, Atlanta, GA 30318. This site offers a PCR COVID-19 test at no charge. Hours of operation are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.

No appointment is required. Staff, students, families of APS students and community members may receive testing at this site.

Virtual learning vs. in-person

APS will base all decisions to pivot to virtual learning (for individual schools) on the following factors:

• The overall school positivity rate of COVID-19 detection is equal to or greater than 5% of the student/staff population

• The county in which the school is located is experiencing high community spread as defined by the Georgia Department of Public Health

If both conditions exist,

  • APS will assess the information gathered as part of our standard case investigation protocol, and
  • APS will assess the impact on our instructional staffing and operations
  • APS will consult with the local department of public health for additional guidance before a final decision is made.

Additional information regarding athletics, extracurricular activities, masks and sanitation can be found on the district’s website.

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