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APS will require all of its staff to get mandatory COVID surveillance testing

WXIA-TV Atlanta logo WXIA-TV Atlanta 8/26/2021 Jessica Brown

Atlanta Public Schools said it will require mandatory COVID surveillance testing for its staff twice per week starting Tuesday, Sept. 7. 

The school district made the announcement Thursday as part of its comprehensive mitigation strategy. 

APS said its mitigation strategies include mandating masks, hosting and collaborating in vaccine events, enhanced cleaning measures, and educating the community and its students on health practices. 

According to APS' website, COVID-19 surveillance testing is a non-diagnostic test that detects the presence of COVID even if individuals are asymptomatic. Test results typically come back within 24 hours.

“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,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said. “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 school district said it conducted a recent survey, revealing 81.4% of its employees who responded to the survey are fully vaccinated. APS said it had 5,044 out of its approximately 6,000 employees respond.

Since July 17, the school district said 189 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. Of those staff members, 95 (50.3%) were vaccinated, and 94 (49.7%) were unvaccinated.

Additionally, APS said as of Aug. 23; it had 20,012 students enrolled at its schools under the age of 12. 

According to a release from the school district, although staff vaccinations are above 80%, APS saw a relatively low staff participation in its weekly 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.”

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