Atlanta Public Schools is implementing a new test-to-stay protocol at all schools and work sites for students and staff beginning Jan. 18. 

This option requires parental consent for student testing, but provides the opportunity for students to participate in modified quarantine guidelines.

“Our strength is that we have been here before. Our longstanding practices and procedures put us in the position of being prepared versus reactive,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said. “The spike in positive cases may result in fluctuations as APS continues to monitor incoming data and pivot to virtual learning on a case-by-case basis, per class and per school, as necessary. However, if we all do our part, in-person learning can be maintained wherever possible, much as we have done throughout this pandemic.”

When a positive case is identified, students and staff who have been in close contact with the individual will be notified and evaluated for symptoms.

Close contacts who have consented to testing will be able to participate in Test-to-Stay. Those individuals with a negative test result will be allowed to stay in school or work as long as they do not exhibit symptoms, and as long as they continue to test negative throughout the 10 days after their exposure.

Individuals who test positive or develop symptoms will be sent home to isolate.

Those who do not consent to testing must quarantine at home for the recommended 10 days.

The school system said the test-to-stay protocol will provide additional and more immediate data for decision-making purposes, and will give families an alternative to help keep their students in school.

Voluntary surveillance testing for students will be increased to twice per week as of Jan. 10. 

APS will also be placing "state-of-the-art" air filtration units in every classroom of all of its traditional schools. The installation of the units will begin the first week of February.

Additionally, APS has invested $68 million to upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems throughout the district. More than 20,000 pieces of HVAC equipment in schools and buildings have been services and monitored and all HVAC system filters have been upgraded.

“Our core business is teaching and learning, and we have to balance that with the health and safety of all,” Herring said. “That is what APS is striving to achieve.”

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