Georgia’s largest school district is having a rough time grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic. According to CNN, Gwinnett county has confirmed that roughly 260 employees have either tested positive or have been exposed to the potentially fatal virus.
The Gwinett County School District has chosen to delay school building reopenings because of the high number of infections. Officials are hoping to prevent the spread by instead relying on online learning for the first few weeks.
In an email to CNN, Gwinnett County Public Schools spokeswoman Sloan Rich said, “As of last Thursday, we had approximately 260 employees who had been excluded from work due to a positive case or contact with a case.” Roach added, “This number is fluid as we continue to have new reports and others who are returning to work.”
Atlanta public schools previously announced that they will start the first nine weeks of the school year online, and the first day of school will be pushed back from August 12 to August 24. Cobb County school district, another suburb of Atlanta, chose a similar path and will begin the school year remotely on August 17.
The decision to reopen schools across the nation has been a hot-button issue among members of Congress, parents, and school staff alike. While the Trump administration has toyed around with the idea of incentivizing schools that reopen and cut federal aid to those that don’t, Americans remain on the fence about whether or not to send their children back to schools amid a pandemic that has shown no signs of stopping.
In a July CNBC/ Change Research poll, swing-state voters believed opening schools should be prioritized but had safety concerns about doing it as early as the fall. Voters in coronavirus hot spots like Florida and Arizona were the most concerned about what students returning to school could mean for public health.
Gwinett County, much like the rest of the world is divided. Last week, parents held a protest, demanding that the school buildings open for the new year. With the coronavirus persisting well into the near future, they say it’s time to restore some semblance of normal.