It was a big news week for Atlanta Public Schools as we announced that we are the first school district in Georgia to provide COVID-19 Surveillance Testing and we welcomed PreK-2 and Special Education students who opted for in-person instruction back to their schools.
Return to In-Person Learning
As I visited schools across the district, I was able to see how excited and eager our young scholars were to be back in school. I shared in their excitement as it was actually my first day of school as your Superintendent. I was able to share a day of teaching and learning in our actual school buildings with our students AND teachers — adhering to social distancing and all of our health and safety protocols, of course.
I am grateful to everyone at Perkerson, Finch, Cascade, E. Rivers, Garden Hills, and M. Agnes Jones elementary schools who made our students and me feel welcomed.
Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Strategy
The other big news this week is tied to our Comprehensive COVID-19 Testing Strategy and our ongoing effort to keep our students and staff safe.
As I said earlier, we announced that APS is the first school district in Georgia to provide COVID-19 Surveillance Testing. “Surveillance” testing refers to regular, frequent testing for individuals who are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. It will allow us to detect the presence of COVID-19 even in individuals who may be asymptomatic. We will receive those test results within 24 hours and be able to notify individuals before they come to school or work.
Eight schools have been selected to participate in our soft launch: Barack and Michelle Obama Academy, Burgess-Peterson, Morris Brandon, Cleveland Avenue, Humphries, Hutchinson, M.A. Jones, and Sarah Smith. We are working with school leadership and our vendor to finalize the logistics and protocols.
Participation in testing is not required for students, but it is strongly encouraged. Parents who want their children to be tested must sign a consent form. I ask for your patience during our soft launch and districtwide implementation. School leadership will communicate directly with families and staff regarding the next steps as testing becomes available at each school.
In the meantime, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us/COVID-Testing-FAQ for our frequently asked questions on surveillance testing.
Accelerate Availability of COVID-19 Vaccine
This week I also joined with several other metro area superintendents to send a letter to Governor Kemp urging him to accelerate the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine for teachers and education staff.
We requested he move teachers and education staff into the 1A category.
We have been meeting with the Governor’s Office and the Georgia Department of Public Health over the last few weeks advocating for vaccine access for educators. Our letter stressed the urgency of this issue, and I will keep you updated as the Governor considers our request.
In closing, let me remind you that the health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority.
We are committed to the success of every student in our District, and I am grateful for your continued support and engagement as we do this work together.