The Week with Dr. Lisa Herring – Week of January 11

Good day, Atlanta Public Schools!

I’m Dr. Lisa Herring, Superintendent. Welcome back to “The Week,” where we provide you with a video summary of the news and information you need most from Atlanta Public Schools.

As we move through the steps of Phase II of our Return+Learn plan, which includes offering face-to-face instruction for some of our students, I want the community to know that we continue to listen carefully to all of your input and opinions. I know there are strong emotions and thoughts covering all aspects of providing the option for in-person learning at this time.

I want you to know that I hear your concerns and understand your worries, perhaps even angst and fears, about whether our children should be in school or should remain in a virtual environment.

That’s one of the reasons why I want to address the numerous mitigation strategies and protocols we have put in place to ensure every school and building in the district provides a safe and healthy environment for our students and staff.

I encourage you to watch these videos to show what teachers, staff, students, and families can expect when they return to our schools and buildings. You can find these videos at www.atlantapublicschools.us/reopen. Additionally, our district-wide safety measures can be found at www.atlantapublicschools.us/APSprotects.

Let me review many of the measures here.

As students and teachers return, all schools are expected to adhere to district health and safety guidelines, which include screening measures and temperature assessments, use of masks and face shields, social distancing, and other hygiene and cleaning procedures. The district has distributed personal protective equipment for our students and employees to use when inside  our buildings.

Please remember to get into the habit of daily health assessments for your children and keep them at home if they are sick or show any signs of illness.

COVID Health Updates

We have several updates regarding our strategies to mitigate COVID-19 in our schools and community.

Testing Strategy:

We have adopted a Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Strategy in collaboration with public health officials, community partners, universities, and healthcare organizations. This strategy works in tandem with our school-based health clinics and community resources to provide testing for all students, teachers, and staff.

As part of our testing strategy, we have testing options available at these school-based health centers and clinics:

  • Dobbs Elementary – 2025 Jonesboro Rd SE
  • Hollis Innovation Academy – 225 James P Brawley Dr. NW
  • King Middle – 545 Hill St. SE
  • Miles Elementary – 4215 Bakers Ferry Rd. SW
  • Toomer Elementary – 65 Rogers St. NE
  • Whitefoord Early Learning Academy – 35 Whitefoord Ave. SE

The Community Organized Relief Effort (C.O.R.E.), the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Emory University are also providing free COVID-19 testing in partnership with APS and will have designated sites.

Case Tracking:

We have employed a deliberate case tracking process as part of our mitigation strategy. In the event a student or staff member receives a positive test result for COVID-19, they must – STEP ONE – notify the school or workplace.

STEP TWO: Upon receipt of the reported positive COVID-19 case at an APS school or office location, we work directly with our local boards of health (Fulton County and DeKalb County) as they conduct contact tracing.

STEP THREE: Based on the guidance provided by the local board and our APS health services department, notifications are sent to impacted staff, students, and families.

And STEP FOUR: If an individual is found to have close contacts while contagious, those who were in close contact will be required to quarantine.

You can find more details about this process in our APS OnCourse Guide available on our reopen page at www.atlantapublicschools.us/reopen.

Vaccinations:

Finally we have been working closely with the local Boards of Health to make vaccinations for employees available at the first opportunity. Our safety and security officers, school nurses, and staff 65 and older are currently eligible as part of Phase 1A of the Boards of Health administration process. All other APS staff will be eligible as part of Phase 1B.

Again, we are keenly aware of the balance of concern and focus for safety, wellness, and well-being for our complete APS family. We will continue to monitor daily the level of community spread and the expanded need for consideration of all factors that will keep us all safe.   

As usual, I ask that you continue to stay engaged, regularly visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/reopen, and keep connected with Atlanta Public Schools and your home school for ongoing updates.

All of our schools have posted their school-specific plans on their web sites, so please visit those as well.

That’s “The Week” for this week! Please Be Safe and Be Well!

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