CONYERS – Rockdale County Public Schools is offering free district-wide COVID-19 testing this week for employees – the first district in the state to do so – as part of its acquisition of telehealth services in partnership with Kids’-Doc-On-Wheels Inc.

Free COVID-19 testing is just one step in the comprehensive COVID-19 risk mitigation measures RCPS is taking to keep staff and students safe, according to the school system. RCPS will also begin offering free, district-wide COVID-19 testing for students starting Feb. 8. RCPS is on a fully virtual class schedule until Feb. 22, when in-person classes on a hybrid schedule will begin for families who choose the hybrid option and virtual classes will continue for families who choose the virtual option.

“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,” said Superintendent Dr. Terry Oatts. “I’m happy to see other districts beginning to follow suit on securing such access to testing.”

While not originally included in the proposed Memorandum of Understanding with Kids’-Doc-On-Wheels, Oatts negotiated the inclusion of district-wide COVID-19 testing as part of the MOU, which was approved by the Rockdale County Board of Education in November. Throughout December, RCPS and KDOW coordinated the scheduling of COVID-19 testing, which formally began Jan. 25 at C.J. Hicks Elementary School.

“Our staff testing successfully began Monday on a drive-through basis,” said Oatts. “Fifty staff members were tested on Day 1, which is a great kickoff to testing for our staff. Student testing is already scheduled to begin on Feb. 8 at our three traditional high schools on a weekly rotational basis.”

RCPS is working to significantly minimize risk by adhering to the consensus of public health experts which includes 1) mandatory mask wearing, 2) social distancing, and 3) washing hands regularly to include the use of hand sanitizers. Per our reopening schools guide, each of the above measures will be adhered to in RCPS.

In addition to these measures, RCPS will implement a hybrid in-person learning schedule beginning Feb. 22, which takes the total number of in-person students at each of the schools and reduces that number by half. Half of those in-person students will attend on Monday-Tuesday, while the other half will attend on Wednesday-Thursday. On Friday, all students will have remote supplemental learning and support activities. Oatts made the decision to implement a hybrid schedule last semester when planning for an eventual return for in-person learning. The hybrid schedule further facilitates the school system’s ability to safely socially distance our students within learning spaces.

For more information about the hybrid schedule, COVID-19 testing, and other risk mitigation measures, please visit www.rockdaleschools.org/reopening.

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Editor

I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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