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More than 860 students and teachers from a single school district in Georgia are currently quarantining after dozens of COVID-19 infections were reported when in-person classes resumed a week ago.
Schools in the Cherokee County district have asked 826 students and 42 teachers to quarantine for 14 days due to possible coronavirus exposure just six days into the new school year.
The 42,000-student district, which is just outside Atlanta, said on Monday that 38 students and 12 teachers had tested positive for the virus in the week that in-person classes resumed.
Those who have been asked to quarantine were identified as part of the district's contact tracing efforts as people who may have come into close contact with an infected student or teacher.
The school district drew national attention last week when a photo of students at Etowah High School squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos without wearing masks.
Schools in Georgia's Cherokee County district have asked 826 students and 42 teachers to quarantine for 14 days due to possible coronavirus exposure. District drew national attention last week when a photo of students at Etowah High School squeezed together for first-day-of-school senior photos without masks
Cherokee County Schools Superintendent Brian Hightower sent a letter home to parents saying that many of the seniors in those photos 'wear masks routinely' even though the school doesn't require them to.
Nearly 300 students at Etowah High School are currently quarantining.
The school district is posting information about all confirmed infections and quarantines on its website in a bid to be transparent.
'As made clear in our reopening of school plan, we anticipated positive tests among students and staff could occur, which is why we put a system into place to quickly contact trace, mandate quarantines, notify parents and report cases and quarantines to the entire community,' Cherokee spokeswoman Barbara Jacoby said.
'We are not hesitating to quarantine students and staff who have had possible exposure - even if the positive test was prompted by possible exposure rather than symptoms.'
No statewide mask mandate is currently in place in Georgia but the Cherokee County school district has encouraged students to wear them.
It comes as Georgia's governor Brian Kemp said on Monday that the reopening of some of the state's schools amid the pandemic outbreak had gone well - except for the widely shared photos of students crowded together without masks.
Students at Sequoyah High School change classes on 4th day of first week of face-to-face school in Cherokee County
The state of Georgia currently has more than 219,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases