40% of metro Atlanta schools’ COVID cases were in January

Clarkdale Elementary School students board their school bus at the end the school day. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

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

Combined ShapeCaption
Clarkdale Elementary School students board their school bus at the end the school day. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

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

Amid omicron surge, school districts recorded nearly 30,000 cases

Metro Atlanta school districts recorded more than 74,000 coronavirus cases among staff and students since start of the school year, according to data reports posted to their websites.

Nearly 30,000 of those cases across 14 districts were recorded in January as coronavirus counts soared in Atlanta due to the omicron variant. The other spike happened in August, when districts recorded nearly 25,000 cases.

The state’s two largest school districts — Gwinnett County and Cobb County — recorded a combined total of more than 29,000 coronavirus cases since August. The Gwinnett County district requires masks, but they are optional in Cobb County schools.

In the midst of the January spikes, most of the districts kept buildings open and students in face-to-face instruction. School systems in Fayette and Fulton counties mandated masks in early January, but dropped the requirement later in the month.

ExploreThe latest on how coronavirus is affecting Georgia schools

The seven-day rolling average of new confirmed and probable infections reached its highest point in the pandemic at more than 20,900 on Jan. 11. The core metro Atlanta counties reached their peaks days earlier.

On Wednesday, the rolling average statewide was 13,482, a decrease of about 36% since the peak.

Below is a summary of the school districts’ data. Because the data relies on self-reporting, the numbers are likely higher, according to health officials. Districts say the figures aren’t exact and the data sometimes changes after their reports are posted.

Atlanta Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 50,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Jan. 28): 4,491. Breakdown: 3,646 students; 845 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 318 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 24 to Jan. 28. That’s up from the 253 cases recorded the previous week. This school year’s highest count — 520 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 27. The second highest case count — 505 — was reported for the week ending Jan. 14.

Buford City Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: About 5,800 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 5-Jan. 28): 583. Breakdown: 504 students, 79 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 20 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Jan. 28. The previous week it reported 26 cases. The district’s highest count — 102 — was recorded the week ending Sept. 3.

In January, the district said in a statement that it does not “trace or report Home Covid tests.”

Cherokee County School District

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 42,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Jan. 28): 5,366. Breakdown: 4,460 students, 906 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 295 cases for the week ending Jan. 28. The previous week it reported 492 cases. This school year’s highest count — 832 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

City Schools of Decatur

Masks: Required

Vaccines: Required for staff, unless exempted; optional for students

Enrollment: Approximately 5,700 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 3-Jan. 28): 335. Breakdown: 278 students, 57 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 49 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Jan. 28. That’s an increase over the 37 cases reported the previous week. This school year’s highest count — 64 cases — was recorded the week ending Jan. 14.

Clayton County Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: About 52,000

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 5-Jan. 28): 3,364. Breakdown: 2,074 students; 1,290 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 161 COVID-19 cases for the week of Jan. 28. The previous week the district recorded 218 cases. This school year’s highest count — 827 cases — was recorded the week that ended Jan. 7.

Cobb County School District

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 107,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Jan. 27): 13,283.

Latest report: The district recorded 1,683 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Jan. 27. This is the second-highest case count recorded since the school year began in August. The previous week the district recorded 1,856 cases.

The district is no longer listing case counts per school, as it had done on previous reports. It is unclear whether the district report counts employees who work outside of schools.

DeKalb County School District

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 93,500 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 6-Jan. 27): 5,775. Breakdown: 4,160 students; 1,615 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 323 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 21 to Jan. 28. The previous week, the district recorded 397 cases. This school year’s highest count — 930 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

Douglas County School System

Masks: Initially required, but now optional, except on buses

Enrollment: Approximately 25,890 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Jan. 27): 2,576. Breakdown: District doesn’t provide that data.

Latest report: The district recorded 268 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27. The previous week it recorded 337 cases. This school year’s highest count — 359 cases — was recorded from Jan. 14 to Jan. 20.

Fayette County Public Schools

Masks: Optional, except on buses

Enrollment: Approximately 20,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 2-Jan. 27): 1,479. Breakdown: 1,281 students, 198 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 128 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 21 to Jan. 27. That’s the same case count as the previous week. This school year’s highest case count — 266 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

Forsyth County Public Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 53,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Jan. 29): 7,286

Latest report: The school district recorded 858 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Jan. 29. The previous week it recorded 869 cases — its highest count of the 2021-2022 school year.

Fulton County Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 90,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 9-Jan. 28): 9,453. Breakdown: The district doesn’t break down cases for students and staff.

Latest report: The district recorded 907 COVID-19 cases for the week ending Jan. 28. That’s an increase from the 891 cases recorded the previous week. The district’s highest case count — 1,160 — was recorded from Dec. 31 to Jan. 6.

Gwinnett County Public Schools

Masks: Required

Enrollment: Approximately 179,600 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Jan. 28): 16,075. Breakdown: 13,558 students; 2,517 staff

Latest report: The district reported 1,372 COVID-19 cases from Jan. 24 to Jan. 30. The previous week, it recorded 1,808 cases. This school year, the district’s count — 2,528 cases — was recorded from Jan. 10 to Jan. 17.

Henry County School District

Masks: Required in all indoor spaces “when responsible” social distancing isn’t possible

Enrollment: Approximately 43,000 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 4-Jan. 28): 3,007 cases. Breakdown: 2,253 students; 754 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 158 COVID cases for the week ending Jan. 28. The previous week the district reported 157 cases. This school year, the district’s highest case count — 480 — was recorded the week ending Aug. 20.

Marietta City Schools

Masks: Optional

Enrollment: Approximately 8,700 students

Cumulative COVID-19 cases (Aug. 3-Jan. 28): 1,123. Breakdown: 884 students, 239 staff

Latest report: The district recorded 72 cases for the week ending Jan. 28. The previous week it recorded 72 cases. This school year, the highest count — 155 cases — was recorded the week ending Jan. 7.

Staff writer J. Scott Trubey contributed to this report.