Cobb, Gwinnett schools to resume in-person classes amid COVID surge

Clarkdale Elementary School wait at a social distance as they prepare to board their school busses after school in Austell on Oct. 5, 2020. This week, schools districts in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties plan to reopen schools amid a coronavirus  surge in Georgia. Masks are option in Cobb schools, while required in Gwinnett schools. (AJC file photo)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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Clarkdale Elementary School wait at a social distance as they prepare to board their school busses after school in Austell on Oct. 5, 2020. This week, schools districts in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties plan to reopen schools amid a coronavirus surge in Georgia. Masks are option in Cobb schools, while required in Gwinnett schools. (AJC file photo)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Six other metro Atlanta school districts are switching to virtual learning this week

Georgia’s two largest school districts will reopen their buildings this week for in-person classes amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the state.

The Cobb County School District is resuming classes Wednesday after winter break, while Gwinnett County Public Schools will begin classes as planned on Thursday.

But six metro Atlanta school districts are holding online-only classes this week. They are Atlanta Public Schools and districts in Clayton, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton and Rockdale Counties.

ExploreAtlanta COVID surge: Classes are online-only in these school districts

Gwinnett — the state’s largest school system — requires masks for students and staff. Masks are “strongly encouraged” but remain optional in Cobb schools unless individuals have recently been exposed to COVID-19.

“Keeping schools safely open for in-person instruction remains our top priority,” said a statement released by the Gwinnett district on Monday.

In a message to parents, the Cobb district said the community shared an “overwhelming preference for in-person learning.” The district asked families not to send children who are sick to school.

ExploreMask policies amid COVID: Where Metro Atlanta school districts stand

On Monday, the Georgia Department of Health did not report new coronavirus data “due to a large amount of data overwhelming the system.” On Friday, DPH reported 24,320 confirmed and probable coronavirus infections, the second-highest total of the pandemic.

Since August, 14 metro Atlanta school districts recorded more than 40,000 coronavirus cases among students and staff. Health officials said the actual numbers are likely higher since the districts’ numbers rely on self-reporting.

Cobb schools have recorded more than 6,000 cases since August, while Gwinnett has documented nearly 8,000 cases.

Before the two-week winter break began in December, multiple area school districts reported a spike in cases.

ExploreThe latest on how coronavirus is affecting Georgia schools