Jan 7, 2022 - News

Atlanta schools to reopen with COVID test-to-stay measures

Illustration of a school bus wearing a mask.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

New protocols will soon be in place for Atlanta Public School students and staff.

Why it matters: With the record-high transmission of COVID-19 in communities, implementing stricter measures will allow APS to better manage the spread of COVID-19 in schools.

  • APS began the spring 2022 semester with virtual learning due to the extremely high numbers of COVID-19 cases in Fulton and DeKalb counties.

The latest: Starting Jan. 18, APS will begin new test-to-say measures at schools and district offices for students and employees.

  • When the district identifies a person who tests positive, students and staff who were in close contact with this individual will be notified and monitored for symptoms.
  • Close contacts who consent to participate in test-to-stay and have a negative result can stay in school or at work if they remain asymptomatic and continue to test negative through 10 days after they were exposed.
  • Anyone who develops symptoms or tests positive will go home to isolate.
  • People who don’t consent to test-to-stay and tests positive will be required to isolate at home for 10 days.

Of note: Parents have to consent to their children being tested for COVID-19 as part of this modified quarantine rule.

When in-person classes resume, masks will be required for students and staff. Voluntary surveillance testing for students will be held twice a week. Only 20% of parents have allowed their children to take part in surveillance testing, and APS wants to see that number increase.

Driving the news: COVID-19 cases remain at an all-time high for Atlanta and Georgia. On Wednesday, Georgia recorded 25,212 confirmed and probable cases, breaking the record 24,517 cases reported on Dec. 30, the Department of Public Health website shows.

What they’re saying: Superintendent Lisa Herring said the current COVID-19 wave could result in the district switching to virtual learning on a case-by-case basis for classes and schools.

  • “Our strength is that we have been here before,” she said. “Our long-standing practices and procedures put us in the position of being prepared versus reactive.”

How it works: APS will review two factors in determining if it should move to virtual learning: if the overall school positivity rate is 5% or more of the student and staff population and if either Fulton or DeKalb counties is experiencing high community transmission of COVID-19.

Meanwhile: COVID-19 vaccination events are planned from 10am to 2pm tomorrow for eligible students, families and staff at Sutton Middle School, Long Middle School, Jackson High School and Mays High School. You can register to get vaccinated by clicking here.

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