Metro Atlanta schools report more than 1,000 COVID cases in first days

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Ten metro Atlanta school districts reported 1,015 cases of the coronavirus in the first days of the new year.

Among the hot spots are the Cherokee County School District, which identified 196 active cases, and the Cobb County School District, which reported 185 known cases.

Gwinnett County Public Schools documented 250 cases from Wednesday — its first day of school — to Sunday.

Although classes in the Fulton County district begin today, it reported 91 positive cases among students and staff in the days leading up to its school start.

The Clayton County and Forsyth County school districts have not yet posted any August data.

Because DeKalb’s report dates back to July 1, its data is not included in the overall total among districts.

Here’s the rundown:

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Atlanta Public Schools

Students in Atlanta Public Schools returned to classrooms on Thursday. On Monday, the district reported 90 cases of the coronavirus - 86 in schools and four in district offices.

The cases included 60 students and 26 staff.

The highest counts were at Drew Elementary School, which had eight cases, and Jackson High School, which had six cases.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Around 51,000 students

Cherokee County School District

The Cherokee County School District reported 196 active cases of the coronavirus Friday after one week of school. Of those, 166 were students, while 30 were staff, according to data posted to the district’s website.

The highest numbers were reported at Etowah High School, where there 17 reported cases and Woodstock High School, which listed 16 active cases.

A year ago in August, both of those high schools closed due to coronavirus outbreaks. At the time, each school reported 13 newly infected students leading to a total of more than 400 students to be under quarantine.

Mask policy: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 41,000 students

City Schools of Decatur

The district reported 10 cases from Tuesday, the first day of school, to Friday. Seven of those cases were students, while three were staff.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 5,700

Clayton County School District

The district has not posted an August data report on coronavirus cases.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: More than 50,000

Cobb County School District

Cobb County reported 185 active cases of the coronavirus among students and staff on Friday.

Elementary schools reported the highest total with 86 cases, while there were 47 cases in middle schools and 52 cases in high schools.

None of Cobb’s 113 schools report more than 10 active cases of the coronavirus.

Cobb’s data does not specify whether cases are among students or staff. Nor does it break out cases involving staff members who don’t work in schools.

As of Friday, Cobb’s website showed a cumulative count of 253 coronavirus cases recorded since July 1. School-by-school cumulative numbers reflect cases counted since the 2021-22 school year started Aug. 2

Masks: Optional, but “strongly encouraged”

Enrollment: Approximately 107,000 students

DeKalb County School District

On Friday, the DeKalb County School District reported 213 cases of the coronavirus — 95 staff and 118 students. The data is listed as beginning on July 1. The district does identify cases by school in the report posted to its website.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 93,000

Douglas County School System

The Douglas County School system reported 62 cases of the coronavirus from July 28 - Aug. 5.

Chapel Hill High School had the highest count, with 12 cases.

Masks were mandated last Wednesday, just days after a 17-year-old student there reportedly died with COVID-19.

In a message on the district’s website, Superintendent Trent North said: “Our decisions are guided by the latest data and recommendations from our health authorities.”

No other information was provided.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 26,000 students

Fayette County Public Schools

The Fayette County district reported 35 cases of the coronavirus from July 31 to last Friday. All but one of the cases were students.

The district reported more 207 individuals are quarantined. This includes 61 students at Whitewater Middle School, 32 students at Starr’s Mill High School and 30 students at McIntosh High School.

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: 19,955, as of October of 2020

Forsyth County Public Schools

The school district said Monday it will begin posted coronavirus on its website, beginning Friday.

That’s a change. The school district initially said it would not be posting data on coronavirus cases.

“Unless directed otherwise by the Department of Public Health or the Governor’s Office, we are not planning on contact tracing, quarantining healthy kids, or reporting daily positive cases on the district website,” said the earlier message.

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 51,000

Fulton County Public Schools

In the days leading up to its Aug. 9 start date, the district reported 91 positive cases of the coronavirus among students and staff.

The district reported 53 individuals in quarantine, including 13 from Mountain Park Elementary, 12 from Roswell High school and 10 from Roswell North Elementary.

The district recently announced masks will be required in areas with high coronavirus case counts. On Sunday, Superintendent Mike Looney tweeted that information about “an alternative option for parents who oppose the district’s temporary masking requirement” will be provided by Thursday.

Masks: Required in schools located in areas with high COVID-19 case counts

Enrollment: Around 94,4000

Gwinnett County Public Schools

The state’s largest school district reported 250 new cases of the coronavirus from Wednesday - the first day of school - to Sunday.

The Gwinnett cases involve 222 students and 28 school district employees, according to reports posted on the district’s website.

Last week, the district initially reported 166 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus on the first two days of school.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 177,000

Henry County School District

The district of 43,000 students reported five students and nine staff with coronavirus infections as of Aug. 2, triggering the quarantines of 45 students and 31 staff.

By Monday, the district had documented the infections of 69 individuals: 46 students and 23 staffers. It reported 345 students and 68 staffers were quarantined.

The district does not identify cases by school.

Masks were initially optional in the district. Then early Monday, it was announced they were required indoors “when responsible distancing is not possible.” But later in the day, the district issued a full mask mandate.

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 43,000

Marietta City Schools

The new school year opened on Tuesday. On Friday, the district reported 27 cases of the coronavirus: 22 students, 5 staff.

Marietta High School had the highest totals with 11 cases — 9 students and 2 staff.

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 8,900

This story has been updated. Staff writers Alia Malik, Vanessa McCray, Leon Stafford and Ty Tagami contributed to this report.