Coronavirus forcing all metro Atlanta school districts to move online

Gov. Brian Kemp spoke on coronavirus on Thursday.

Gov. Brian Kemp spoke on coronavirus on Thursday.

NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect Gwinnett County Schools’ digital learning plans

Citing the continued spread of the coronavirus, the big metro Atlanta school districts announced Thursday afternoon they will close buildings and shift to online learning for at least the next week.

Most districts, including DeKalb, Cobb and Fulton counties, said buildings will remain closed “until further notice.”

The announcements came the same day Gov. Brian Kemp's office announced the first coronavirus-related death in Georgia. Kemp also said earlier today that schools should assess whether to close for two weeks because response to the virus needed to be more aggressive.

“This is not a mandate,” Kemp said at a press conference. “We know school closures have a major impact on our Georgia families.”

Several districts already has been mulling over what to do as the virus continued to spread in the state. Fulton County Schools closed all schools for two days this week after a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus. Two schools remained closed after students returned to class Thursday.

City Schools of Decatur said schools will shift online “indefinitely.”

Gwinnett County Schools said in a robocall to parents it will close schools next week, utilize digital learning and announce by March 19 its plans for the following week.

DeKalb County School District officials said the district would begin digital learning days on Monday to continue their education.Classes already are out on Friday for a teacher planning day.

Programs and partnerships in recent years have afforded students handheld devices, laptops as well as wireless hotspots to use at home.

A district spokeswoman said offering meals and healthcare services are being explored.

Some private schools have announced they are closing as well, including The Walker School in Marietta. The Westminster Schools in Buckhead cancelled classes today and is doing digital lessons Friday.

Elsewhere in the state, Rome City Schools announced schools would close Friday and Monday.

Officials said the man who died was 67 and tested positive on March 7. The man, who was being hospitalized at Wellstar Kennestone, also had “underlying medical conditions.”