Atlanta Public Schools reports soaring COVID cases before break

Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

Credit: Bob Andres/AJC

Cases reported were the second highest of the 2021-2022 school year

Atlanta Public Schools reported a big uptick in COVID-19 cases during the final week of the semester.

For the week ending Dec. 17, the district recorded 435 COVID-19 cases: 306 students, 129 employees. That’s more than four times the cases reported the previous week and the second-highest weekly case count for this school year.

Since the start of the year year, the district’s highest count — 520 cases — was reported for the week ending Aug. 27.

Soaring case counts before the winter break prompted three Atlanta schools to finish the last few days of the semester with virtual learning.

The two schools with the highest number of cases in mid-December — Maynard Jackson High School with 45 and King Middle School with 47 — moved to online learning. Herman J. Russell West End Academy, which reported 10 cases, also switched to virtual classes.

Other Atlanta schools with high counts that same week included Therrell High School with 33 cases and Centennial Elementary School with 19.

The district’s COVID-19 numbers had been on a generally downward trend since late September but have began to go up again in recent weeks. The higher counts came as students returned from Thanksgiving break and as the omicron variant began to spread in Georgia.

APS currently requires masks in its buildings, but officials have said that mandate could be lifted in early February if case numbers are deemed low enough. Juliana Prieto, the district’s recently hired epidemiologist, will help make that determination based on Fulton and DeKalb county COVID-19 numbers.

Overall, APS has documented more than 3,000 cases since school began in August, according to data posted on its website.

On Monday afternoon, Superintendent Lisa Herring in a Twitter post that the district “will continue our strict COVID-19 mitigation protocols”.

This story has been updated.