For Immediate Release
August 16, 2021
Statement From the Georgia Federation of Teachers on Prioritizing COVID-19 Testing and the Safe Return to In-Person Learning
Strategic partnership with Inspire Health Alliance continues to facilitate convenient at-home testing
ATLANTA – As we approach the start of the 2021-22 school year, we want to reiterate our dedication to the health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff members. Over the past 18 months, educators have shown their commitment by working around the clock to keep students engaged — both in person and virtually. Our students need and deserve to return to school full-time and we want to make sure it is done in the safest way possible.
Across the country, almost 90% of educators and school staff are now vaccinated. Still, considering the new highly contagious variant of COVID-19, we want to ensure that everyone is vaccinated or, at the very least, receives regular testing. That is why we are reaffirming our strategic partnership with Inspire Health Alliance to make self-administered COVID-19 tests available to Georgian educators at zero out-of-pocket cost.
Each kit comes with self-collection nasal swabs as well as detailed instructions on how to collect a specimen and then overnight it back in the mail to Inspire’s CLIA-licensed laboratory. The technology behind the test kits is powered by U-Pass™, a turnkey COVID-19 testing and health pass solution from Unisys and Inspire Health Alliance. Inspire and Unisys have led the way in testing, authentication and monitoring. Through this partnership, which began in May, and by following all recommended safety measures, we have confidence we will be able to reopen fully this fall and stay open.
While we are advocates for vaccination and testing, we also recognize we are still learning how well the COVID-19 vaccines keep people from spreading the virus and how effective they are against variants. It is therefore important to remember the need to continue following all health recommendations and mitigation strategies to keep infection rates low.
As you prepare for your child to return to school, here are a few essential items you should consider:
- Talk to your child’s school about health and safety protocols.
- If your child is 12 years of age or older, they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Call your pediatrician or visit vaccines.gov to receive information on how to get your child vaccinated.
- If your child is not yet eligible for a vaccine, talk to them about ways to stay safe while at school.
- The CDC recommends that all students, teachers, staff, and visitors wear masks indoors in K-12 schools.
- The CDC also recommends that schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students while in the classroom.
- Encourage your child to practice good handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds at school and at home. If soap and water are not available, encourage your child to use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
- If your child shows signs and symptoms of COVID-19 or other infectious illnesses, you must keep them home and ensure they get tested.
Educate yourself and your family regarding the myths and misconceptions of the COVID-19 vaccines.