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City Schools of Decatur suspends COVID-19 weekly surveillance testing

COVID-19 Decatur Trending

City Schools of Decatur suspends COVID-19 weekly surveillance testing

Elizabeth Wilson School Support Center, City Schools of Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

Decatur, GA — City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Maggie Fehrman announced in her weekly newsletter on Nov. 5 that the district has suspended its COVID-19 weekly surveillance testing.

“As we shared on Nov. 3, the testing company assigned to us through the Georgia Department of Public Health is having difficulty sourcing BinaxNOW Rapid Antigen Tests,” Fehrman said. “We are working with the Department of Public Health to explore other testing options, which may include surveillance/point-of-care tests. We will work closely with our COVID advisory teams and school health staff to determine the next steps. While we are investigating other testing options, surveillance weekly testing is suspended.”

The weekly testing program rolled out at a few sites in CSD the week of Oct. 11 and all sites were expected to be up and running the following week. In Fehrman’s newsletter sent on Oct. 15, she said the district was experiencing a few hiccups implementing the weekly testing as some messages from the testing company were sent to parents with missing information regarding results.

On Oct. 29, Fehrman said that was the district has completed its third week of surveillance testing, and that was the second week when no positive COVID-19 cases were reported from the weekly testing.

Fehrman said at the Sept. 14 School Board meeting that if supplies arrive, the district was ready to begin testing after fall break. About 1,500 students had signed up, at the time, and consented to be tested, she said. The weekly testing would help the district identify COVID-19 cases, particularly asymptomatic cases.

“We really want to try to see that number get up to about 2,500. We know that if you’re testing about 50% or more of your students on a weekly basis, that is really the most beneficial,” Fehrman said at the Sept. 14 meeting.

At the Aug. 10 School Board meeting, Fehrman said the district had been working behind the scenes on the logistics of surveillance testing for a while and added that staff was still figuring out how the process would work.

“We will be screening students and staff once a week in our schools,” Fehrman said. “The Department of Health for Georgia is supporting this initiative for school districts, so we were able to use resources from the state, so we do not have to pay for these resources. But it does take a lot of logistical planning and figuring out how do we do the surveillance testing.”

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