Jan 3, 2022 - News

Omicron sends Atlanta students back to virtual classrooms

Illustration of a group of computers featuring chalkboards with equations on them
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Metro Atlanta students will begin the spring 2022 semester remotely amid the latest spike in COVID-19 cases.

School systems in Atlanta, Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton will start the semester this week with virtual learning due to high community transmission of COVID-19 in their counties.

Why it matters: Clayton Superintendent Morcease Beasley said in a news release that starting the second semester virtually gives anyone who tests positive the time to complete isolation and quarantine periods recommended by public health officials.

  • “We have to act with caution and encourage families to participate in the vaccination and testing opportunities available to ensure we can have school with minimal disruptions to the learning process,” he said.

In Atlanta Public Schools, educators and staff members who are not sick have to report to their work sites today for mandatory COVID-19 surveillance testing.

Students in Marietta City Schools, City Schools of Decatur, and Cobb, Cherokee and Gwinnett counties will start the second semester with in-person learning.

Yes, but: City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Maggie Fehrman said Friday in a message to parents that while families are concerned about the latest surge, there’s “strong evidence” to show that schools are safe for students, regardless of the level of community transmission of the virus.

  • Fehrman said parents should be aware that there could be occasional classroom closures if there are high numbers of teachers who need to isolate or quarantine at home.

Zoom out: COVID-19 case numbers have skyrocketed across Atlanta and Georgia since mid-December. The Omicron variant is now the dominant strain of the virus.

  • As of Friday, the Department of Public Health reported 24,320 confirmed COVID cases, according to its website. It was the second-highest number of cases reported by DPH, following Thursday’s record-shattering number of 25,163 cases.

Of note: COVID numbers are not updated during holidays, so the latest numbers should be available Monday afternoon.

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