The Barrow County School System distributed over 14,000 free COVID-19 tests to students and staff for at-home use, as one additional mitigation effort for this school year.
BCSS participates in the Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity (ELC) “Reopening Schools Program,” which is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and administered by the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH). The program is designed to support safe, in-person instruction in K-12 schools.
Through the ELC program, BCSS has been able to offer initiatives that provide additional layers of prevention to help students and staff attend school in person safely, keep our schools open, and allow our children to keep doing the activities they love - safely. The ELC program funds these initiatives.
In February 2022, BCSS implemented a voluntary COVID-19 testing program. Regular COVID-19 testing can quickly detect, trace, and isolate COVID-19 positive individuals, which helps lower the risk of transmission. Each week, BCSS students and staff that opted into the program take a PCR test at their school or work location. Over 500 individuals opted to participate in the weekly testing program. From February through April, the testing program helped to identify 5 positive COVID-19 cases.
In April 2022, BCSS received 16,000 COVID-19 at-home self-test kits for distribution to BCSS students and staff. The over-the-counter COVID-19 diagnostic tests are FDA authorized for self-testing at home. This means individuals collect their own sample, perform the test, and read the result without the need to send a sample to a laboratory. Each kit contains two tests, so individuals can test and confirm the test results at home.
As of April 28, approximately 14,410 test kits were distributed to students, faculty, and staff. (BCSS Parents had the choice to opt-out their children out of receiving a COVID-19 test kit.) About 1,500 unclaimed test kits will be available for parent pick-up at BCSS school clinics as needed and during summer programs, such as sports camps.
The Barrow County School System will continue to explore mitigation resources and programs that offer additional layers of protection to keep our community safe and healthy. We strive to offer opportunities so students and staff can choose the methods of protection to best meet their individual needs.
The ELC was awarded $10 million in April 2021 from the American Rescue Act of 2021. The program is currently set to expire in July 2022.