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Students during the first day of school at Roosevelt Elementary School in Anaheim, California, on Aug. 12. Photo: Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Several counties across the U.S. have temporarily suspended school because of a surge in coronavirus cases among students and faculty early in the academic year.

Why it matters: Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC this week he believes more schools will close due to COVID-19 than last year because the Delta variant spreads with greater ease than other versions of the virus.

  • "I think this fall is going to be really challenging for schools," Besser said. "I expect that it’s going to jump around different classrooms, and schools will be forced to shut down more than they did in fact last year."

Counties and schools that have canceled classes:

  • Burke County, Georgia, announced Friday that schools would be canceled for two weeks after more than 40 new cases were recorded among students in the district.
  • Ware County, Georgia, said it would cancel classes for two weeks "due to a sharp increase in the number of active positive COVID cases reported among students and staff members" after just over a week in session.
  • Schools in Georgia's Macon, Taliaferro, Glascock and Talbot counties shut down for two weeks or transitioned to virtual learning.
  • Stone High School in Wiggins, Mississippi, said this week it would transition to virtual classes for two weeks because of new virus cases, though the school did not disclose the exten of the outbreak, according to WLOX, an ABC/CBS-affiliated television station.
  • South Hancock Elementary School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, said this week it would close for two weeks after six full days of school because eight students had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Sun Herald.

The big picture: It is so far unclear whether the Delta variant causes a more serious illness in children and teens than other versions of the virus, though more adolescents are being admitted to hospitals because of COVID.

  • The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve coronavirus vaccines for children under age 12.
  • Major pediatrician organizations have called on the FDA to act faster to authorize vaccines for young children.

Go deeper: Nearly 500 students in Palm Beach County, Florida are quarantined

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

Pediatric groups declare youth mental health crisis a national emergency

Kids attending school in Los Angeles, California. Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Three major pediatric health groups declared on Tuesday a national state of emergency in children's mental health.

The big picture: Rates of childhood mental health issues and suicide had been rising since 2010 but worsened significantly in the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social unrest around racial justice.

DeSantis to convene state legislature to fight COVID vaccine mandates

Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Thursday that he will convene a special session of the state legislature to combat coronavirus vaccine mandates enacted by businesses and "provide protections for employees."

Why it matters: This is the Republican governor's latest move to penalize local entities that implement mask or vaccine mandates to contain the spread of the virus.

Oct 21, 2021 - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing a face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% have received at least one dose.