COVID-19 surveillance testing at Humphries Elementary School. (Courtesy APS)

Atlanta Public Schools (APS) will make COVID-19 surveillance testing mandatory for staff twice per week beginning the week of Sept 6 as part of its mitigation strategy.

“Surveillance testing will allow us to keep up our momentum of quality, in-person learning and minimize the risk for everyone. Even if you are fully vaccinated, or have no symptoms, you may unknowingly expose others to the COVID-19 virus,” APS Superintendent Dr. Lisa Herring said in statement. “Frequent surveillance testing can help protect your students, colleagues, and your loved ones at home. It is the best tool available to detect asymptomatic carriers.”

While 81 percent of APS employees are already inoculated, there is still concern due to the delta variant of COVID-19 potentially infecting the district’s 20,012 students under age 12 who aren’t eligible to receive the vaccine.

Also of concern is the fact that as of July 17, 189 staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those staff members that tested positive, 50.3 percent were vaccinated and 49.7% were not vaccinated.

APS schools remain prepared to pivot to a virtual instruction again should the need arise due to a high number of positive cases, Herring said.