Georgia school district closes second high school as coronavirus quarantines grow

Sec. Betsy DeVos on reopening schools: CDC has provided good guidelines for kids to safely return

A Georgia school district has temporarily closed a second high school that reopened last week after more students and staff face quarantine due to the coronavirus.

The Cherokee County School District announced on Wednesday it would close Woodstock High School until Aug. 31 a day after announcing the same decision at Etowah High School.

“As of this morning, the number of positive cases at the school had increased to a total of 14 with tests for another 15 student pending; and, as a result of the confirmed cases, 289 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, the total would significantly increase," superintendent Brian Hightower wrote in a message to parents.

Each school has about 2,500 students. It’s unclear whether any students or employees were infected at school.

The Cherokee County School District, about 30 miles north of Atlanta, reopened for more than 30,000 of its 42,000 students on Aug. 3 and resumed full five-days-a-week instruction. About 22% of students chose the district’s online learning option.

On Tuesday, Cherokee County listed at least 826 students had been quarantined but by Wednesday that number jumped to 1,156. With 37 staff members also on the quarantine list, there are almost 1,200 people isolating themselves to stop the spread of the virus, although it's likely that many aren't infected.

Etowah High School was among those that made headlines last week after a photo showed dozens of maskless students squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos.

Other school districts in the state are also facing challenges as the school year begins.

North Paulding High School in Dallas, about 32 miles west of Atlanta, stirred similar controversy after a photo of students packing a hallway went viral last week.

In this photo posted on Twitter, students crowd a hallway on Aug. 4, 2020, at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga. The school temporarily closed just a week after reopening.  (Twitter via AP)

Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott announced Sunday that the school would temporarily shift to remote learning after parents were alerted that at least six students and three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19. The school is set to reopen Monday with new protocols.

Cobb County Schools said last week it will continue with plans for online-only classes when school begins Aug. 17 after it was alerted by the Georgia Department of Health to about the 100 potential coronavirus cases among students and staff, WSB-TV reported.

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Meanwhile, Georgia's largest school district in Gwinnett County struggled to launch online learning for its 180,000 students as parents complained that their students repeatedly tried and failed to log into the district’s online system.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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