Fayette Schools to treat COVID-19 more like flu than pandemic

Fayette County Schools is no longer treating COVID-19 as a pandemic.

In an email to parents earlier this week, the south metro Atlanta school system of about 19,900 said it now regards the virus as endemic, like the flu, chickenpox or other communicable diseases.

As a result, the district will only send home “close contact” letters if the virus is being transmitted in a classroom, grade level or building, instead of when a child has come in proximity of someone infected. The district will, however, continue to send letters notifying parents of the first positive COVID-19 case detected at their child’s school for the week.

All students and employees are required to follow the Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 guidelines for isolation and quarantine, the district said in the email.

“We have developed a COVID-19 Decision Chart to guide parents and employees on the steps to take regarding a positive or suspected case of COVID-19, or exposure to someone who has tested positive for the virus,” the email said.

Fayette’s decision comes as metro Atlanta schools slowly began easing restrictions surrounding COVID-19 in recent weeks. In January, many districts, including Fayette, mandated masks as the highly transmissible omicron variant spread across the nation.

But as the infection rate dropped in late January, Fayette and other metro districts switched to optional face covering policies.

Fayette said it will increase its reporting of infections, adding a daily report. It will still report weekly totals on Fridays. The Friday report encompasses positive cases from the previous Friday to Thursday of the current week.

The school system said it will continue to “take precautionary measures against the spread of COVID-19 with frequent sanitizing of high touch surfaces, regularly scheduled electrostatic spraying of classrooms and buildings, and encouraging hand washing/sanitizing.

“We want to thank all of our parents, guardians, students and employees for their cooperation in helping us continue to deliver the best in education during what has been a very challenging time,” the district said.