Atlanta-area school districts continue to report decreases in COVID cases

Students walk through the hallway on the first day of school at Clark Creek Elementary School in Acworth, Georgia, on August 2, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Combined ShapeCaption
Students walk through the hallway on the first day of school at Clark Creek Elementary School in Acworth, Georgia, on August 2, 2021. (Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

The number of COVID-19 cases recorded by metro Atlanta school continues to drop — in some cases for the fifth consecutive week, according to the latest data reports.

The state’s two largest school districts recorded the highest totals in the metro area last week. Gwinnett County Public Schools documented 548 cases while the Cobb County School District recorded 394. But those numbers were more than 50% lower than case counts reached in late August.

The decline in cases reported by school districts mirrors the decrease in COVID-19 cases statewide.

Since the start of school last month, 14 Atlanta-area districts recorded 33,700 COVID-19 cases among students of staff as of last Friday Of those, 1,825 were documented last week.

Some metro districts were on break last week, which accounts for some of the decline in overall totals..

Below is a summary of the latest coronavirus data and news from the districts.

Atlanta Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 51,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Sept. 24): 2,238. Breakdown: 1,895 students; 343 staff

Latest report: For the week ending Sept. 24, the district reported 183 COVID-19 cases: 150 staff, 33 students. This marks the fourth consecutive week in declining case counts. The highest count — 466 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 27.

Buford City Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: About 5,525 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 5-Sept. 24): 395. Breakdown: 350 students, 45 staff

Latest report: For the week ending Sept. 24, the district reported 10 COVID-cases: 9 students, 1 staff. This marks the third consecutive week of declining case counts. The highest count — 102 — was recorded the week ending Sept. 3. In its latest report, every school reported at least one confirmed case of the coronavirus. Buford Academy reported 5, while Buford High School recorded 3.

Cherokee County School District

Masks: Optional

School start: Aug. 2

Enrollment: Approximately 42,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Sept. 16): 3,340. Breakdown: 2,833 students, 507 staff

Latest report: The district was on break the week of Sept. 20. According to its website, the next COVID-19 report will be posted Oct. 1.

The district’s last available data report covered Sept. 13-16. During that time, it recorded 228 cases: 180 students, 48 staff.

The district’s highest case count — 832 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

City Schools of Decatur

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 5,700 students.

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 3-Sept. 24): 101. Breakdown: 85 students, 16 staff

Latest report: The district recorded just one confirmed COVID-19 case for the week ending Sept. 24.

The district’s highest case count — 21 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20. Since then, the district’s case count has dropped five consecutive weeks.

Clayton County School District

Masks: Required

Enrollment: More than 50,000

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 5-Sept. 24): 1,468. Breakdown: 1,275 students, 193 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 100 cases for the week ending Sept. 24. Of those, 82 were students, 18 were staff. This marks the fifth consecutive week that the case count has dropped. The district’s highest case count — 287 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

While many districts posts case data on individual schools, Clayton does not “in an effort to protect the privacy and confidentiality of our impacted students and staff,” according to a statement provided to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Cobb County School District

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 107,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Sept. 24): 5,320. Breakdown: District data doesn’t provide that information.

Latest report: For the week ending Sept. 24, the district recorded 394 cases: 196 cases in elementary schools, 109 in high schools and 88 in middle schools. Another four cases likely involved non-school staff.

This marks the fourth consecutive weekly decrease in cases since a high of 1,033 cases the week ending Aug. 27.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said in a statement that Cobb’s outcomes with a mask-optional policy this school year “are statistically similar to last year as a mask-mandated district.”

His views remain controversial. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking for curbing the spread of the coronavirus. The CDC last week published three studies that showed COVID-19 cases were lower in areas with school mask mandates.

DeKalb County School District

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 93,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 6-Sept. 23): 2,997. Breakdown: 2,440 students, 557 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 175 COVID-19 cases from Sept. 17-23. Of those, 152 were students, 23 were staff.

This marks the fifth consecutive week that the district has seen a decline in cases. The highest count — 930 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

Douglas County School System

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 26,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Sept. 23): 1,278. Breakdown: District data doesn’t provide this information.

Latest report: The district reported 104 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Sept. 23. This marks a drop from the previous week when the case count was 166. The district recorded its highest case count — 273 — from Aug. 28 to Sept. 2.

Fayette County Public Schools

Masks: Required from Aug. 27-Oct. 29

Enrollment: Approximately 20,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Sept. 24): 906. Breakdown: 804 students, 102 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 41 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Sept. 24. This is its lowest case count since the first week of school. The highest case count — 266 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20. The district has seen a drop in cases for five consecutive weeks.

Forsyth County Public Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 51,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Sept. Sept. 24): 3,720

Latest report: For the week ending Sept. 24, the district recorded 13 new cases.

The districts also posts daily reports of active cases. Last week the highest case count — 270 — was reported on Sept. 19.

Students and employees were on break last week, which explains the low number of cases reported.

Fulton County Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 94,400 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 9-Sept. 23): 3,485. Breakdown: District data doesn’t provide that information.

Latest report: The district recorded 200 COVID-19 cases from Sept. 17-23. In addition, 15,238 individuals had direct contact with a student or staff member who was COVID-19 positive. The district deems an entire class or bus a potential contact when at least one individual tests positive for the coronavirus.

Fulton has recorded a drop in cases for four consecutive weeks. This highest case count — 892 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 26.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 177,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Sept. 26): 5,908. Breakdown: 5,288 students, 620 staff

Latest report: The district reported 548 COVID-19 cases from Sept. 20-26. Of those, 474 cases were students, 74 were staff. This marks the third consecutive week in which a decline in cases was documented. The highest count — 1,159 — was documented from Aug. 30 to Sept. 6.

For over a year, the district has posted its data on a daily basis in a PDF format. Last week, it unveiled a new COVID-19 dashboard as another way for the public to access data. The dashboard provides additional data, such as cases reported by cluster and education level.

“We wanted to provide our community in our reporting greater understanding of what’s happening in each individual school across our district and, perhaps more importantly, trends over time,” Debbie Durrence, the district’s chief data officer, told the board of education at a recent meeting.

Henry County School District

Masks: Required as of Aug. 9

Enrollment: Approximately 43,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Sept. 27): 2,061. Breakdown: 1,781 students, 280 staff

Latest report: Schools were on break last week. Even so, the district recorded 32 cases for the week ending Sept. 27. The district’s highest case count — 480 — was recorded the the ending Aug. 20.

Marietta City Schools

Masks: Required, as of Aug. 23

Enrollment: Approximately 8,900 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 3-Sept. 24): 483. Breakdown: 413 students, 70 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 24 cases for the week ending Sept. 24. All of the cases involved students.

This marks the fourth consecutive week that the district has seen a decline in cases.

The district’s highest case count — 153 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 27.

This file has been updated with Clayton County’s data.