Nearly 1 in 5 Gwinnett students were absent Friday amid COVID surge

About 10% of teachers were absent Thursday and Friday

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

Credit: Alyssa Pointer /

As Gwinnett County Public Schools saw a surge of COVID-19 cases last week, the district recorded thousands of student absences.

More than 29,000 students — about 16% — were absent when classes resumed Thursday after winter break, according to the district. The next day, more than 32,000 — about 18% — were absent.

Close to 10% of the district’s roughly 12,500 teachers were absent both school days last week — 1,173 on Thursday and 1,344 on Friday.

“Our absentee rate was certainly influenced by COVID conditions,” said district spokeswoman Sloan Roach. However, she said the total absences are higher than an average day, but not unusual for the start of a semester.

The district recorded a total of 1,752 cases — 1,449 from students, 303 staff last week — when classes were in session only on Thursday and Friday. The previous high was the first week of September, in which the district reported 1,159 cases.

Gwinnett, the state’s largest school district, resumed classes in-person last week as six other metro Atlanta districts held virtual classes after winter break because of the rising amount of COVID-19 cases. All but one of those districts — Rockdale County Public Schools — returned to in-person learning Monday.

In Gwinnett, masks are required in the district’s schools and on buses.