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Rockdale County Schools begins offering free COVID-19 testing for staff, students

The testing comes as the school system lays out its plans for resuming in-person learning

CONYERS, Ga. — Officials with the Rockdale County, Ga., Public Schools announced they had started offering free district-wide COVID-19 testing for employees this week.

It's part of the district's comprehensive telehealth services in partnership with Kids'-Doc-On-Wheels (KDOW), a pediatric non-profit dedicated to affording school districts comprehensive telehealth and mobile medical unit services. 

According to a release from the school system, free COVID-19 testing for students will be offered district-wide, starting Feb. 8, 2021. 

Rockdale County Public Schools is on a fully virtual class schedule until Feb. 22, when a hybrid schedule for in-person classes will begin for families who have chosen that option. Virtual classes will continue for families who opted to remain with that schedule. 

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“As the first district in the state to provide COVID-19 testing for both our staff and students, RCPS is demonstrating its commitment to prioritizing the safety and well-being of our staff and students in preparation for their return to in-person teaching and learning," Rockdale County School Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts said in a statement. "I’m happy to see other districts beginning to follow suit on securing such access to testing.”

District-wide testing was not originally included as part of the memorandum of understanding with KDOW, but Oatts was able to negotiate the inclusion of the district-wide testing in the memorandum of understanding, which was approved by the county's board of education last November.

The formal beginning of testing commenced on Monday, Jan. 25, at C.J. Hicks Elementary School, according to the release.

"Fifty staff members were tested on Day 1 which is a great kickoff to testing for our staff," Oatts said. "Student testing is already scheduled to begin on February 8 at our three traditional high schools on a weekly rotational basis."

According to Oatts, the hybrid in-person learning schedule will cut the number of students at each of the school facilities and reduce them by half. Half of the in-person students will attend on Monday-Tuesday, while the remaining half will attend on Wednesday-Thursday. Fridays will be spent by all students in supplemental remote learning and support activities. 

Oatts said the school system is working to significantly minimize risk by adhering to the consensus of public health experts, including mandatory mask waring, social distancing, and washing hands regularly along with using hand sanitizers.


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