Thousands of Cobb middle schoolers return to class for in-person learning

10/5/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Clarkdale Elementary School students board their school bus at the end the school day in Austell, Monday, October 5, 2020. Cobb County schools, the stateÕs second largest district with about 112,000 students, will begin the first phase of its reopening plan on Monday, Oct. 5. The district will reopen classes to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and kindergarten through 12th grade special education students. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
10/5/2020 - Atlanta, Georgia - Clarkdale Elementary School students board their school bus at the end the school day in Austell, Monday, October 5, 2020. Cobb County schools, the stateÕs second largest district with about 112,000 students, will begin the first phase of its reopening plan on Monday, Oct. 5. The district will reopen classes to students in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade and kindergarten through 12th grade special education students. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

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

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

More than 10,000 middle school students returned to Cobb County classrooms this week as the district launched the second phase of its reopening plan.

The second phase began Monday, and the district said 14,570 students returned to its middle school campuses for in-person learning. A Cobb County School District spokesman said parents of 14,838 middle school students originally indicated last month that they would return for face-to-face learning.

“Parents have shown confidence in the enhanced health and safety measures we have put in place in our classrooms while we remain committed to giving parents a choice between a face-to-face or remote learning environment," a Cobb County School District spokesman said Tuesday.

As students return to in-person learning, Cobb schools is also providing a more detailed listing of confirmed COVID-19 cases at its schools. The district last week began listing on its website the number of cases at elementary schools, and will add its middle school cases to the list beginning Friday.

As of Tuesday, 11 elementary schools have between 1 and 10 confirmed cases: Acworth Intermediate, Bullard, Chalker, Frey, Hollydale, Mableton, Milford, Rocky Mount, Sanders, Still and Varner.

ExploreGeorgia withholds school COVID-19 counts from public

A Cobb schools spokesman said no schools in the district face possible closure due to its number of confirmed cases. Numbers for high schools will be released Nov. 13, a week after the third reopening phase begins for those students.

As of Tuesday, the school district has 349 COVID-19 cases that have been confirmed since July 1 by the Cobb & Douglas Public Health Department. The district has declined to provide a breakdown on how many of those cases are active.

Cobb schools' spokesman also said that in order to protect the privacy of anyone who is sick or quarantined, it will follow state Department of Public Health recommendation to not list the number of cases by school if there are fewer than 10. The district also will not indicate whether those with the virus are students or staff members.

Cobb County School Board member Dr. Jaha Howard said he and other parents want the district to provide more information “so we feel like we can make a wise decision for our own children.” He also said parents understand the need to balance transparency with privacy laws, but believe the district can improve on how often it shares information with the public.

“It’s hard to know if you’re making the right decision, so my heart goes out to every educator and parent," he said. “I hope that we give each other a little grace as we try to navigate these waters.”

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