Metro Atlanta schools record over 18,500 COVID cases in August

Students wearing face masks get a tour of their new school during the first day of school at Pearson Middle School in Marietta, August 2, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Combined ShapeCaption
Students wearing face masks get a tour of their new school during the first day of school at Pearson Middle School in Marietta, August 2, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer

Since the start of the new school year, 14 metro Atlanta school districts recorded 18,548 COVID-19 cases as of Aug. 27.

The largest counts were recorded by school systems in Cobb, Gwinnett, Cherokee and Forsyth counties, according to the districts’ data reports.

Most school districts also reported an increase in coronavirus cases in the final full week of August. For these districts, it was the third consecutive week of increases since students returned to classrooms for the new school year.

For the week ending Aug. 27, the districts recorded nearly 7,000 COVID-19 cases, according to data reports.

Less than 24% of Georgians between the ages of 12 and 17 are fully vaccinated, according to health data. Children under age 12 are not eligible for vaccines.

When asked whether they would push for a vaccine mandate, five metro Atlanta district superintendents participating in a forum this week sponsored by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution were not of one mind.

Clayton County Superintendent Morcease Beasley said a mandate creates a problem if “20 or 30 percent” of your staff refuses.

“I’m not going to solve a problem by creating a worse problem,” he said.

But City Schools of Decatur last week announced that it was working on a proposal to require vaccines for employees, and eventually students.

Masks are now required in all but six metro Atlanta school districts.

Below is a summary of the latest coronavirus data and news from Atlanta area districts. Districts do not post information in a uniform way. Some report new cases.

Atlanta Public Schools

Atlanta Public Schools recorded 466 cases for the week ending Aug. 27. Of those, 409 were students, 57 were staff.

The highest counts were at Brandon Elementary School, which documented 32 cases and Washington High School, which had 23.

APS administered nearly 25,000 COVID-19 tests to employees and students in the first three weeks of school. The testing program has been voluntary, but after Labor Day employees will be required to take twice weekly tests.

The district enrolls about 51,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 466

Week ending Aug. 20: 395

Week ending Aug. 13: 224

Week ending Aug. 6: 90

Cumulative total: 1,175

Masks: Required

Buford City Schools

Buford City Schools reported 101 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Aug. 27. Of those, 91 were students, 10 were staff.

The highest case counts were at Buford Middle School, which had 36, and Buford High School, which had 26.

The district says it’s going to slow down its phase-in plan for visitors.

“We will move the start date from Sept 7th to Sept 27 for our K-8 volunteers and lunch visitors,” the district’s website said.

In addition, kindergarten students will be eating lunch in classrooms for the next two weeks.

The district enrolls about 5,525 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 101

Week ending Aug. 20: 71

Week ending Aug. 13: 30

Cumulative total: 202

Masks: Optional

Cherokee County School District

The Cherokee County School District recorded 640 active cases of COVID-19 for the week ending Aug. 27. It reported 546 students cases and 94 staff cases.

The highest counts were at Etowah High School, which had 58 cases and Dean Rusk Middle school, which documented 48 cases.

The district has approximately 41,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 640

Week ending Aug. 20: 832

Week ending Aug. 13: 565

Week ending: Aug. 6: 196

Cumulative total: 2,233

Masks: Optional

City Schools of Decatur

City Schools of Decatur recorded nine COVID-19 cases for the week ending Aug. 27.

Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the school system is working on a policy that would require employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The school system is consideration drafting a vaccine mandate for students, too, but Fehrman said that would take longer. At present, children under age 12 aren’t eligible for vaccines.

The district enrolls approximately 5,700 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 9

Week ending: Aug. 20: 21

Week ending Aug. 13: 13

Week ending Aug 6: 10

Cumulative total: 53

Masks: Required

Clayton County School District

The Clayton County School District recorded 266 cases for the week ending Aug. 27. Of those, 232 were students, 34 were staff.

Nearly two dozen schools in the district temporarily pivoted to online learning in August due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

The district enrolls more than 50,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 266

Week ending Aug. 20: 287

Week ending Aug. 13: 107

Week ending Aug. 6: 158

Cumulative total: 818

Masks: Required

Cobb County School District

The number of recorded active cases in the state’s second largest school district reached nearly 3,000 for the month of August, as of last Friday.

For the week ending Aug. 27, the Cobb County School District recorded 1,026 cases. Of those, 450 were in elementary schools, 255 in middle schools and 321 in high schools.

The district enrolls approximately 107,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 1,026

Week ending Aug. 20: 936

Week ending Aug. 13: 551

Week ending Aug. 6: 185

Cumulative total: 2,698

Masks: Optional

DeKalb County School District

The DeKalb County School district recorded 379 COVID-19 cases in its latest report, which spans Aug. 20-26.

Of those cases, 334 were students, 45 were staff.

DeKalb’s overall data doesn’t paint a true picture of active cases this month since the first week’s total included cases dating back to July 1.

Masks are required in the district, which enrolls approximately 93,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 379

Week ending Aug. 20: 428

Week ending Aug. 13: 289

Cumulative total: 1,811

Masks: Required

Douglas County School System

The Douglas County School System recorded 257 new COVID-19 cases for the week ending Aug. 27. The district’s report does not say how many cases were students.

The highest count was at Alexander High School, which documented 60 new cases.

Masks were mandated early in August after a 17-year-old student in the district reportedly died with COVID-19. Approximately 26,000 students are enrolled in the district.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 257

Week ending Aug. 20: 163

Week ending Aug. 13: 93

Week ending Aug. 6: 62

Cumulative total: 575

Masks: Required

Fayette County Public Schools

Fayette County Public Schools recorded 174 cases of COVID-19 for the week ending Aug. 27. Of those, 156 were students, 18 were staff.

The highest counts were at Starr’s Mill High School, which reported 22 cases and J.C. Booth Middle School, which documented 20.

Last week the district announced a mask mandate through Sept. 17.

The district has approximately 20,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 174

Week ending Aug. 20: 266

Week ending Aug. 13: 173

Week ending Aug. 6: 35

Cumulative total: 648

Masks: Optional until Aug. 24, then mandated through Sept. 17.

Forsyth County Public Schools

Forsyth County Public Schools recorded 967 active cases as of Aug. 27, including 857 students and 110 staff.

The highest counts were at North Forsyth Middle School, which documented 52 active cases and 13 new cases. Lakeside Middle School reported 56 active cases and 8 new cases.

The school system has approximately 51,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending. Aug. 27: 967 active; 165 new

Week ending Aug. 20: 877

Week ending Aug. 13: 289

Cumulative total: 2,133 active

Masks: Optional

Fulton County Public Schools

Fulton County Public Schools’ latest data report covers the period of Aug. 20-26. During that time, the district recorded 892 COVID-19 cases.

In addition, the district reported that 4,750 individuals had direct contact with another student or employee deemed positive for the coronavirus.

The district enrolls around 94,400 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Aug. 20-26: 829

Aug. 13-19: 625

Aug. 6-12: 306

Aug. 2-5: 91

Cumulative total: 1,914

Masks: Required

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Gwinnett County Public Schools recorded 1,059 new cases of the coronavirus last week. That’s an increase of 245 cases over the previous week.

Last week’s totals included 958 students, 101 staff.

Gwinnett is the state’s largest school district, with approximately 177,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Aug. 23-29: 1,059

Aug. 16-22: 814

Aug. 9-15: 565

Aug. 4-8: 250

Cumulative total: 2,688

Masks: Required

Henry County School District

The Henry County School District recorded 471 COVID-19 cases in its latest report, which runs from Aug. 24-30.

Of those cases, 422 were students, 49 were staff.

In addition, the district documents 928 individuals in quarantine.

Six schools in Henry County switched to remote learning last week due to COVID-19 cases. They were: Oakland Elementary, Stockbridge Elementary, Locust Grove Middle, Luella Middle, Ola Middle and Dutchtown High.

The district has approximately 43,000 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Aug. 30 report: 471

Aug. 23 report: 480

Aug. 16 report: 245

Aug. 9 report: 69

Aug. 2 report: 14

Cumulative total: 1,265

Masks: Required, as of Aug. 9

Marietta City Schools

Marietta City Schools recorded 153 cases of the coronavirus for the week ending Aug. 27: 127 students, 26 staff.

Masks were optional when school started this month. But last week, the district started requiring them in buildings and on buses.

The school system has approximately 8,900 students.

COVID-19 cases:

Week ending Aug. 27: 153

Week ending Aug. 20: 94

Week ending Aug. 13: 54

Week ending Aug. 6: 27

Cumulative total: 328

Masks: Required, as of Aug. 23

Data journalists Jennifer Peebles and John Perry as well as reporters Kristal Dixon, Vanessa McCray, Leon Stafford and Ty Tagami contributed to this report.

This story has been updated.