ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced plans today (Jan. 25) to provide COVID-19 surveillance testing in schools as some students in pre-K-2 students returned to school under the district’s Return+Learn initiative.
The news conference was held at M.A. Jones Elementary School in southwest Atlanta and included APS Superintendent Lisa Herring; Atlanta Board of Education Chair Jason Esteves; Viral Solutions, LLC President/Cofounder Ron Sanders; and CEO/Cofounder Dr. Benjamin Lefkove.
Students in grades PreK-2 whose parents or caregivers opted for in-person instruction returned to the classroom today. Students in grades 3-5 will return on Monday, Feb. 8, while students in grades 6-12 will return on Tuesday, Feb. 16.
“We are doing everything we can to keep everyone safe. And, I want our students, teachers, staff, and the APS community to know that I’m listening. I hear your concerns. They haven’t fallen on deaf ears,” Herring said. “But more importantly, I’m acting on your concerns and I continue to evolve our Return+Learn plan with your feedback in mind.”
Officials said in a news release that APS is the first PreK-12 school district in the state of Georgia to offer COVID-19 Surveillance Testing in schools and buildings. The weekly testing will allow the district to be proactive and identify the presence of the COVID-19 virus, even in individuals who may be asymptomatic, officials stated.
APS is partnering with metro Atlanta-based Viral Solutions, LLC, to provide screening services, with the goal of offering testing at several schools as early as Jan. 29 and no later than early next week.
APS will offer the “COVID-19 Surveillance Testing” to students and staff, and will be able to get results within 24 hours.
While participation in surveillance testing is not required for students, it will be strongly encouraged, district officials said.
The district is exploring all options as it relates to the administration of surveillance testing for staff, and will be implementing staff training, information sessions, and other staff engagement activities as it works to keep everyone safe.
Learn more about the district’s health and mitigation efforts at www.atlantapublicschools.us/APSProtects.