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Atlanta Public Schools will offer COVID-19 Surveillance Testing as part of reopening plan

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Atlanta Public Schools will offer COVID-19 Surveillance Testing as part of reopening plan

APS Superintendent Lisa Herring visited students who returned to the classroom after months of learning virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo provided to Decaturish
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Atlanta, GA — With students returning to the classrooms, Atlanta Public Schools on Jan. 25 announced a plan to conduct COVID-19 surveillance testing in schools.

“APS is leading the way in educating students in the safest way possible by being the first PreK-12 school district in the state of Georgia to offer COVID-19 Surveillance Testing in schools and buildings, which has been recognized as one of the surest ways to create a safe environment,” the district announced in a press release. “This 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.

“The District is partnering with metro Atlanta-based Viral Solutions, LLC, to provide screening services, with the goal of beginning to offer testing at several schools as early as Friday of this week, or no later than early next week.”

In a statement posted on Facebook, Viral Soultions said, “Viral Solutions will serve approximately 55,000 students and 6,000 staff members — administrating an average of 1,300 COVID-19 tests per day in schools.”

APS is returning students to the classroom in phases after months of students learning virtually due to the pandemic. Students in grades PreK through second grade whose parents opted for in-person instruction returned on Tuesday, Jan. 25. Grades three through five will return Feb. 8 while grades six through 12 will return on Feb. 16, APS announced.

“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,” Superintendent Lisa 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.”

Here is the full announcement from Atlanta Public Schools:

ATLANTA – Atlanta Public Schools (APS) announced plans to provide COVID-19 surveillance testing in schools, during a press availability earlier today at M.A. Jones Elementary School in southwest Atlanta.

The news conference – featuring APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring, Atlanta Board of Education Chair Jason Esteves and Viral Solutions, LLC President/Cofounder Ron Sanders and CEO/Cofounder Dr. Benjamin Lefkove – was held on the first day of the District’s Return+Learn initiative. 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, February 8, while students in Grades 6-12 will return on Tuesday, February 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,” Dr. 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.”

APS is leading the way in educating students in the safest way possible by being the first PreK-12 school district in the state of Georgia to offer COVID-19 Surveillance Testing in schools and buildings, which has been recognized as one of the surest ways to create a safe environment. This 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.

The District is partnering with metro Atlanta-based Viral Solutions, LLC, to provide screening services, with the goal of beginning to offer testing at several schools as early as Friday of this week, or no later than early next week.

“COVID-19 Surveillance Testing” is the formal medical term for this type of test, which will allow for the detection of the presence of COVID-19 in an individual, even if they are asymptomatic.

APS will offer this test to students and staff, and will be able to get those results within 24 hours. Surveillance testing will become yet an additional health and mitigation strategy deployed across the District.

While participation in surveillance testing is not required for students, it will be strongly encouraged. The success of this mitigation strategy, and the ability to return and keep students in school, is based on high levels of staff and student participation. 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 even more about the District’s health and mitigation efforts at www.atlantapublicschools.us/APSProtects.

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