ATLANTA - Atlanta Public Schools said it will start testing all staff members twice a week for COVID-19 starting Sept. 7.
The district said it was part of its comprehensive mitigation strategy that also includes mandating universal mask-wearing, hosting and collaborating in COVID-19 vaccine events, instituting robust cleaning measures, and educating our stakeholders on best practices.
"Surveillance testing will allow us to keep up our momentum of quality, in-person learning and minimize the risk for everyone. Even if you are fully vaccinated, or have no symptoms, you may unknowingly expose others to the COVID-19 virus," said APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring. "Frequent surveillance testing can help protect your students, colleagues, and your loved ones at home. It is the best tool available to detect asymptomatic carriers."
The district said several factors were considered in the decision for both mandatory testing and exploration of mandatory vaccination including:
- 81.4% of employees who recently responded to our survey indicated they are fully vaccinated; out of approximately 6,000 employees, 5,044 survey respondents.
- Since July 17, 189 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those staff members that have tested positive for COVID-19, 50.3% or 95 individuals were vaccinated and 49.7% or 94 individuals were not vaccinated.
- There is significant variation in vaccination rates for staff and students across APS schools
- APS has 20,012 students under age 12 enrolled in our traditional schools as of Monday, August 23.
- Even though APS’s employee vaccination number is over 81 percent, the district is seeing low staff participation in weekly COVID-19 surveillance testing.
"I want to thank our teachers and all of our employees for all that they are doing to keep our students and their fellow colleagues safe," Dr. Herring said. "Their commitment to masking up, physical distancing, being vaccinated, and following our safety protocols all make a difference in ensuring our environment is safe. Mandatory twice-weekly surveillance testing will now make our school even safer."
More than 51,000 students attend the 87 schools and five programs part of the Atlanta Public Schools.
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