Atlanta Public Schools lifts Covid testing mandate for sports, extracurriculars


Cate Barton

Freshman Megan Bookspun participates in testing.

Cate Barton

Atlanta Public Schools has dropped the mandatory testing requirement for students participating in sports and extracurriculars. The testing mandate was lifted along with the district wide mask mandate on March 1.

According to an email sent by APS the removal was, “based on the CDC’s new recommendations and a combination of other factors.” Schools are still offering optional testing for students. Once weekly testing is still mandatory for teachers.

Chris Fitzgerald, a parent of two APS students, said the removal of required testing is “fantastic.”

“I did not understand why testing was optional for the general student population but was required for athletes,” Fitzgerald said. “I am not in favor of making it [testing] required for any group of students.”

Midtown nurse Wanda Taylor said required testing should remain because there are still other COVID-19 variants, and when someone tests positive, it reduces the risk of transmission since that person must quarantine.

“I think it’s not a good idea [to stop required testing],” Wanda Taylor said. “We still have variants out there, it’s still going to be more children getting sick.”

Wanda Taylor predicts that there will be a significant decrease in the amount of students getting tested.

“The athletes aren’t going to bother to test,” Wanda Taylor said. “They were forced to test. They will probably go back to not testing, and we will be back at square one.”

Boys basketball player Albert Taylor got tested when it was required, but has decided to stop getting testing.

“I never felt like I had a reason to get tested,” Albert Taylor said. “I think the tests were unreliable and bound to give me false results.”

Athletic Director Patrick Johnson said that removing the required testing means there is one less thing for to players have to worry about. However, he believes students should still get tested.

“It’s important to know [who is positive for COVID-19],” Johnson said. “Getting tested weekly has been a valuable tool for me. I hope our athletes will still take advantage of it just as a way to monitor their health and keep their teammates safe.”

Freshman Kate Berg plays on multiple sports teams at the school and wishes the requirement was still in place.

“I’m definitely still going to get tested,” Berg said. “I hope that others will too because I like to know the people around me don’t have the virus, so the required testing was really reassuring to me.”

Jennifer Richman, parent of three APS children, has gotten her kids tested since it was offered and believes testing is a useful tool. She said she doesn’t see the testing requirement for athletes as important now that most spring sports are outdoors.

“I think it’s important to still test the community to make sure we aren’t undergoing a surge at some point – especially with masks now not being required,” Richman said. “Because most of the spring sports are outside, I’m not as concerned about it. In the winter we were undergoing a surge and the sports were indoors. It might be something they need to reconsider in the fall and winter next year depending on what’s happening with the virus.”

Wanda Taylor believes athletes should get tested regardless of if the sport is outdoors or not.

“A contact sport is still a contact sport,” Wanda Taylor said. “Even in non-contact sport there is still [a] celebration and sometimes you’re hanging out on the bus together and the locker room together.”

Wanda Taylor believes that APS is listening to the government rather than the CDC.

“The state government doesn’t listen to the CDC,” Wanda Taylor said. “They are trying to influence decisions, they are trying to help and have a scientific solution to a medical problem, but the state is making it a political problem. Atlanta Medical, Grady Hospital, Emory [and] Piedmont none of them have relaxed a mask requirement. You must wear a mask if you want to go into any of their buildings. I feel that should be the same at Midtown.”