Cobb schools record 936 active COVID cases in new report

Credit: Ben Gray

Credit: Ben Gray

The county has declared a state of emergency due to a surge in cases

Cobb County is closing in on 1,000 COVID-19 school-based cases among students and staff this month, according to data posted to its website.

Although the case count is growing, district officials reiterated Thursday that they are sticking with plans keep masks optional amid calls from parents to tighten coronavirus protocols.

As of Friday, the district reported 936 active cases in its schools, which is up from 551 cases reported the week ending Aug. 13. Active cases in elementary schools now stand at 463, while 216 are in middle schools and 257 are high schools.

In each Cobb’s data reports this month, elementary schools have had the highest case counts. Children under age 12 are not eligible for vaccines.

ExploreParents press Cobb schools on mask policy, COVID-19 protocols

With an estimated 107,000 students, Cobb is the second largest district in the state. The district has faced pressure from parents and medical professionals to require masks amid a surge of COVID-19 cases fueled by low vaccination rates and the highly contagious delta variant.

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said during Thursday’s board of education meeting that masks will remain optional, but “strongly encouraged” in schools. He said the district has encouraged people to get vaccinated, but it remains a personal choice.

“At this time, I do not believe it is appropriate to mandate either decision, which will remove the ability for each family to make the best decision for them as a family,” he said.

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Georgia has the nation’s fourth-highest number of children currently hospitalized with COVID-19, according to health data. Only one in five Georgians between the ages of 12 and 17 is fully vaccinated.

Late Thursday, Cobb County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Lisa Cupid signed a declaration of emergency due to the surge in COVID-19 cases.

Masks are also optional in Cherokee, Fayette, Forsyth and Buford City schools, but are required in Atlanta, Clayton, Decatur, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett and Henry county schools.

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Cobb schools’ cumulative COVID-19 case count is now 1,764, up from 822. School-by-school cumulative numbers reflect cases counted since the 2021-2022 school year started Aug. 2.

Starting Monday, a change in the district’s public health protocol will go into effect. The new rule requires anyone identified as close contact to quarantine at home for three days following exposure. Once those three days are up, they have the option to return to school if they are asymptomatic and wear a mask 10 days after initial exposure.

Ragsdale also said Thursday that any student who has to quarantine at home will have their absences excused.