Roundup: COVID-19 batters first week of school reopening in U.S. state of Georgia

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-10 13:47:23|Editor: huaxia

WASHINGTON, Aug. 9 (Xinhua) -- At least one high school in the southern U.S. state of Georgia will temporarily move to online teaching on Monday, after dozens of students and school staffers tested positive for COVID-19 and hundreds were sent home to quarantine during the first week of classes in the state.

North Paulding High School in a suburb west of Atlanta, a major city in Georgia, will switch to online learning at least for Monday and Tuesday after at least six students and three staff members tested positive for the virus during the first week of in-person instruction starting on Aug. 3, local media reported.

Photos posted by a student on social media showed that hallways in the school were tightly packed with students, many of them not wearing masks.

The student was initially suspended for sharing the photo on Twitter which drew nationwide attention. However, her mother, Lynne Watters, told CNN on Friday that the suspension had been reversed and would not appear on her daughter's record.

"As a result of our being informed of nine cases of COVID-19 at North Paulding High School following the first week of in-person instruction, along with the possibility that number could increase if there are currently pending tests that prove positive, we have consulted with the Department of Public Health and are temporarily switching the instructional method to Digital Learning at NPHS," Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott said in a letter to parents on Sunday.

"Hopefully we can all agree that the health and safety of our students and staff takes precedence over any other considerations at this time," Otott wrote.

Also in Paulding County School District, a student who was in Sammy McClure Sr. Middle School "for at least some time last week" has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a letter sent by Principal Jaynath Hayes to parents on Sunday.

The Cherokee County school system, another one in the Atlanta metro area, reported 12 students and two staff members across a dozen schools tested positive for the virus during its first week of reopening, said a USA Today report, adding that over 250 students with potential exposure had been sent home to quarantine for two weeks.

Meanwhile, Cobb County Schools said it will continue with online-only classes after the district was notified by the Georgia Department of Health about 100 potential cases, WSB-TV reported.

Cobb County Schools had announced that all 113,000 students will start the year learning virtually when school begins on Aug. 17. The decision has been met with backlash from parents who protested to demand an in-person learning option, KDXU News reported.

In Cherokee County of the state, a second-grade pupil tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the first day of school on Monday, forcing the child's teacher and classmates to be sent home to quarantine for two weeks.

A seven-year-old boy, who had no known underlying health conditions, last week became the youngest person known to die of COVID-19 in Georgia.

Thousands of American parents have sent their children back to the classroom and millions more will soon join them amid fears about whether they'll even be notified when the coronavirus hits their campuses, said a report from the USA TODAY Network.

Local observers say what happened during the first week of school reopening in the state of Georgia highlighted the risks of resuming in-person classes amid the pandemic across the country.

"We know that older individuals and those with underlying conditions are at higher risk of complications, but this (COVID-19) is a disease everyone, regardless of age, should take seriously," Nancy Nydam, director of Communications for the Georgia Department of Public Health, told CBS News.

The United States surpassed the threshold of 5 million COVID-19 cases on Sunday, 17 days after reaching 4 million cases, according to the Johns Hopkins University tally. Enditem