COVID-19 Report: This week’s impact on metro Atlanta schools, governments

Deborah Clinkscales, assistant principal, directs students to maintain social distance as students wearing masks arrive to Jackson Elementary School for the first day of school amid the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /
Deborah Clinkscales, assistant principal, directs students to maintain social distance as students wearing masks arrive to Jackson Elementary School for the first day of school amid the coronavirus outbreak on Wednesday, August 26, 2020. (Hyosub Shin /



COVID-19 is disrupting so much of life that it is difficult to keep up with the news.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has summarized the news of coronavirus cases reported in Georgia school systems and metro Atlanta governments this week. These are all fluid situations, so things might have changed by presstime, but visit for the latest news on the pandemic.


• The University of Georgia is altering course and doing “randomized” COVID-19 testing, which some say lacks specifics and worry will result in less testing. Previously, asymptomatic students could make an appointment for testing or simply show up at the testing site. UGA will now have a limited number of slots available for those who haven’t been invited to be screened, but still want to be tested. The school acknowledged challenges, such as limited supplies.

• The Athens Banner-Herald reports that fans must wear masks and stay six feet apart when watching Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals high school football teams open their season next Friday. The newspaper reports that 1,600 tickets, a quarter of Cedar Shoals’ capacity, will be sold.


• Atlanta Public Schools — with its roughly 52,000 students — had its first day of classes Monday disrupted by outages of the video platform Zoom. All students are learning remotely for at least nine weeks or until there’s minimal to moderate spread of the coronavirus. The Cobb County and Marietta school systems also experienced Zoom trouble Monday.

ExploreAJC On Campus: COVID-19 case updates


• Clayton County law enforcement leaders are hoping a donation of 60,000 headphones and earbuds to the school system will help them connect with young people. The Clayton Police Department, Clayton County Sheriff’s Office and the Clayton County District Attorney’s Office donated the items to be used with the district’s laptops as part of an anti-guns and anti-gang initiative.


• Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said this week he wants to see fewer COVID-19 cases before making and final decisions on when to bring students back into classrooms, even as other students in other districts partially return.

• An Acworth Elementary School staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, the Cobb County School District confirmed Wednesday. The school has been cleaned and those “directly impacted” have been contacted by health officials.

• Cobb County commissioners allocated $2 million of the $132 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding it received from the federal government to help nonprofits impacted by COVID-19.

• The district hopes a new shipment of Chromebooks and a donation from a local church will help fill demand from families needing technology for the new age of remote learning. The district has received the first 750 of an order to supply families with 2,600 Chromebooks from Gwinnett-based company Stratix. The district’s foundation The Cobb Schools Foundation received the $75,000 gift from North Metro Church in Kennesaw to help the district purchase laptops for students in Title I schools, where at least half of their students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.


• DeKalb County will host another series of food giveaways on Saturday, to address food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic. The county will open three sites for drive-thru distribution events. Those in need will be able to receive a 20-pound box of fruits and vegetables and a 10-pound bag of frozen chicken. The sites are Buck Godfrey Stadium, 2817 Clifton Springs Road in Decatur; James R. Hallford Stadium, 3789 Memorial College Ave. in Clarkston; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, 6400 Woodrow Road in Stonecrest.

• The DeKalb County School District is retraining school nutrition workers after parents complained publicly that meals received from the district while classrooms remain closed have included bad food, a district spokeswoman said Tuesday. The district has been delivery meals since schools closed in March.


• Fayette County Schools on Monday named Jonathan Patterson, a longtime Gwinnett County Schools leader, its next superintendent. Patterson will succeed Jody Barrow, who has been Fayette superintendent since 2012 and retired June 30. Patterson begins Oct. 1. That same day, the district reported that six students have contracted COVID-19 and 32 have been quarantined because of possible exposure. One teacher contracted the disease and nine members of the staff have been quarantined.

ExploreUpdated Metro Atlanta school news from the AJC


• U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos visited Forsyth Central High School this week to discuss the district’s reopening plan. Forsyth, which began its school year Aug. 13, is offering parents a choice of in-person and online learning. Middle and high school students have the additional option of attending in person part time and online part time, based on each course, and DeVos said parents deserve such choices. With its approach, Forsyth has managed to reduce the number of students in buildings and its class sizes in some classes. The county is tracking positive COVID-19 cases among its staff and students here.


• The Alpharetta City Council rejected a mask law Monday that would have required face coverings in public during the coronavirus pandemic. Council members debated personal rights and those of private businesses, though businesses would have been allowed to opt out of the requirement.


• The largest school district in Georgia began returning to physical learning Wednesday. It was the start of Gwinnett’s phased return to in-person learning. In addition to kindergartners and first graders, students in grades 6 and 9 and special education students of all grade levels who are in self-contained classrooms returned to classrooms on Wednesday. Other grades that opted for in-classroom learning will be gradually phased in through Sept. 9. As of Wednesday morning, 44% of Gwinnett’s students had opted into the plan. The number was 49% last week.


• The Hall County School District has completed its first week of in-person schooling since COVID-19 took hold. They are calling it a success, according to the Gainesville Times. Hall is also releasing its absence numbers via a tracker.

The Times reports that Gainesville City Schools System families will be able to track COVID-19 cases with weekly reports by the district.

Explore Back to school: Disparity in reporting COVID cases and lack of universal reporting


• Henry County announced it will disburse $5 million in CARES Act funding to small businesses and non-profits hoping to get financial help from the impact of the coronavirus. Applications for the money are available at the Henry County government website and will be vetted through the Henry Grant Department. For more information contact Nathifa Cunningham at 770-288-6541.

• The city of Stockbridge held a selfie contest to get people to wear masks. Winners will be featured on the city’s social media pages.


• The Macon Telegraph reports that county commissioners passed two new mask mandates, nearly a month after Macon’s first mandate was vetoed.


• Newton County public schools hasn’t begun classes for this school year, however Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey, like many school leaders around the state, is planning how to introduce face-to-face instruction for whenever that is possible, reports The Newton Citizen. You can also read about the plan in The Covington News.


• Rockdale’s first day had some hiccups, according to the Rockdale Citizen, because the ItsLearning platform had technical issues. The district had 20,000 students and staff trying to access the system at once.

• The Rockdale Citizen reports that “more than a dozen student-athletes gathered on the lawn of the school system’s Central Office on Main Street Monday afternoon to protest the loss of their fall softball and football seasons.” Earlier in August, the school system delayed fall athletics until the second semester because of COVID-19.

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