Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) 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 comprehensive telehealth services secured last November in partnership with Kids’-Doc-On-Wheels, Inc. (KDOW), a nonprofit dedicated to affording school districts comprehensive telehealth and mobile medical unit services.
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. 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.
Schools Superintendent Terry Oatts said, “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. 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 (MOU) with KDOW, Oatts successfully 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 2020. Throughout December, RCPS and KDOW coordinated the scheduling of COVID-19 testing, which formally began January 25, 2021 at C.J. Hicks Elementary School.
“Our staff testing successfully began Monday on a drive-through basis,” Oatts said. “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 February 8 at our three traditional high schools on a weekly rotational basis.
While we can never eliminate all risk, 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.”
RCPS officials will implement a hybrid in-person learning schedule beginning Feb. 22, which takes the total number of in-person students at each school 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.
RCPS officials said no other school district that is currently hosting in-person learning is doing so on a hybrid schedule. Superintendent Oatts made the decision to implement a hybrid schedule last semester when planning for an eventual return for in-person learning.
For more information about the hybrid schedule, COVID-19 testing, and other risk mitigation measures, visit www.rockdaleschools.org/reopening.