COVID-19 spike: Fulton closes some schools, announces 2nd semester plan

Fulton County Schools told parents Monday night that some students won’t return to a physical classroom for a month because COVID-19 cases are spiking.

In addition to shutting down some schools, the 90,000-student school district also on Monday laid out its preliminary re-entry plan for the winter semester. The last day of this semester was scheduled to be Dec. 18, with plans to return Jan. 6.

Though the rest of this week was already half-days because of exams, Superintendent Mike Looney moved all high school instruction online starting Wednesday, Dec. 16 because of the spike, the district announced.

But that wasn’t soon enough for North Springs High School, where virtual learning began Tuesday because of “the impact of quarantining and staff absences,” according to the district.

The most recent district case data (from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13) shows that North Springs high has four positive students/staff and 12 people quarantining.

Over that time districtwide, data showed that 70 people were positive and 956 were quarantining.

Nearly all elementary and middle schools will continue offering in-person learning this week. There are five exceptions due to the number of cases and staff quarantines. The following schools are entirely remote the rest of this week:

» Renaissance Elementary School

» Evoline C. West Elementary School

» Hopewell Middle School

» McNair Middle School

» Webb Bridge Middle School

The district’s re-entry plan for the next semester covers the first two weeks of January, starting Jan. 6 when students return from winter break.

All students will learn online from Jan. 6 to Jan. 8.

Elementary school students will resume face-to-face instruction on Monday, Jan. 11. Middle and high school students who have chosen in-person learning will physically resume Wednesday, Jan. 13.

Similar to the district’s post-Thanksgiving plan to curb spread, officials are promising 48-hour results for those tested on Jan. 2 at two testing sites. The locations were not announced, but the district said one would be in the north and one in the south.

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The Pfizer vaccine was administered Monday to five Savannah nurses just two days after its authorization for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration. But some confusion also gripped health care sites across the state, . as hospital systems waited to learn how many doses they would get and when. The Georgia Department of Public Health has not disclosed how many doses it expects to receive and which health care providers will be given them. Total deaths in the state confirmed and likely due to COVID-19 have passed 10,000. Statewide, 2,962 people are currently hospitalized for COVID-19, state data show, the highest point since early August. Georgia is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to give initial doses to health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities