COVID-19 ravaging Cobb Schools
As we watched protesting parents on the evening news angrily clash several days ago as they took dueling positions on mask wearing in Cobb Schools, COVID-19 was doing what health experts predicted it would do, infecting the masses. While some parents supported the district keeping masks optional, others saw a mask mandate as the district’s only way out of a rise in COVID cases.
Since school started in early August, the virus has been moving swiftly across classrooms and buildings, among students, teachers, and staff. It was coming to school with some and going home with others as it moved from person to person grabbing hold and infecting those that came within its space that knows no boundaries.
As of Friday, The Cobb County School District recorded more than 1,000 active school-based COVID-19 cases. The data reflects 450 cases in elementary schools, 255 in middle schools and 321 in high schools over the past week for an overall count of 1,026 active cases.
Some are blaming school leadership on this spike of COVID cases in Cobb Schools and point to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations that have been ignored. On August 4, the CDC issued its guidance, entitled COVID-19 Prevention in K-1 Schools, which included a recommendation of indoor masking for all individuals age 2 years and older, including students, teachers, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.
Initially, both Marietta City Schools and Cobb Schools said they would stick to their initial plan when school started, which was not to require masks. Cobb Schools issued a press release about the CDC recommendation that said: “Masks are strongly encouraged, but they will remain optional at this time. When looking at school districts that have mask mandates in place, some districts have higher numbers than us, while some have lower numbers than us.”
Marietta quickly changed course after tracing 38 student cases and seven staff cases of COVID to school transmission. MCS Superintendent Grant Rivera moved quickly in sending a letter after the first nine days of school requiring masks (Aug. 3-13) after cases had been documented.
Cobb County is now the only Atlanta-area school district that doesn’t require masks for in-person learning. With Cobb being Georgia’s second largest system, with an estimated 107,000 students, parents say it was important for leaders to get this right, but instead, they allowed this to happen on their watch.
After the first two weeks of school, the school district reported close to 600 active cases of COVID in schools. Now that number has almost doubled. As a result of their failure to heed the directives of the CDC, as well as pediatric and other medical experts, those who are in charge have failed our students and teachers in keeping them safe while a pandemic lurks among us. Moreover, they have failed our community that relied on them to help keep COVID numbers low, not provide it an endless pool of victims.
From the governor to the school board, to the parents insisting their child be educated without a mask, they all bear some level of responsibility for the COVID outbreak in Cobb schools. Parents are demanding that decision makers course correct and implement mask wearing. They point to the numbers and ask how many more must test positive before the school acts in the best interest of all involved.
This critical health pandemic requires everyone coming together and doing our part to lessen the virus spread. How many of our educators, staff, and children must become sick before Cobb comes up with a better plan?