Cobb schools report 105 new COVID-19 cases at 53 schools

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Cobb County School District rose sharply this week, with 105 new cases added to the totals as the first data has come in since the return of high school students to campuses.Cobb County School District, Cobb schools dual enrollment summit

Those new cases have been reported at 53 of the district’s 112 schools, including most of the high schools.

According to the district’s weekly Friday update, there have now been 615 confirmed COVID cases among students teachers and staff since July 1.

At all of the schools with new cases, 10 or fewer cases have been reported, as has been the case since the district began releasing figures in October. This week’s total is the biggest one-week increase.

Friday marked the end of the second week of campus return for high school students, who were the last component of the district’s phased reopening that began in October.

Of the 17 high school campuses in the district, only four did not have any confirmed COVID cases—Sprayberry, Osborne, Pebblebrook and the Cobb Horizon School.

When elementary students returned in the first phase in early October, there had been 287 COVID cases reported.

Since then, there have been 328 reported cases, which don’t break down specific numbers of students and staff.

The new figures come as Cobb County and Georgia are reporting new spikes in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

As of Wednesday, there have been 23,547 COVID cases reported in Cobb County, as various reporting metrics have been on the rise. A total of 480 people in Cobb have died from the virus, the second-highest number in Georgia behind Fulton County.

On Nov. 2, the seven-day moving average of cases in Cobb according to date of onset had risen to 94.3, the highest figure since early September.

Even more critically, the 14-day average of cases per 100,000 people has nearly doubled over that time.

According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Cobb’s 14-day average was 188 per 100,000 as of Thursday.

That’s down from 222 cases per 100,000 on Wednesday. Public health officials consider 100 cases per 100,000 to be what they call “high community spread.”

It’s a key metric used by Cobb school superintendent Chris Ragsdale in his decision to start the school year online. By the late summer, the 14-day average had grown to nearly 400.

By the time that figure had fallen to a little more than 200, the decision was made to allow face-to-face learning.

In September, Cobb’s 14-day average dipped below 100 for just a couple of days, and has been gradually climbing ever since.

Georgia DPH also reports that there have been 1,487 new cases in Cobb County over the last two weeks.

Of the Cobb schools with new COVID cases, 17 are in East Cobb, including five of the six high schools:

  • Elementary Schools: Blackwell; Davis; Kincaid; Mountain View; Murdock; Sedalia Park; Shallowford Falls
  • Middle Schools: Daniell; Dodgen; East Cobb; McCleskey; Simpson
  • High Schools: Kell; Lassiter; Pope; Walton; Wheeler.

As the district’s new update was announced, we got a message from a Dickerson Middle School parent noting that no cases had been reported there in this week’s update. But she got a “low-risk” note that went out to the school community indicating that someone had reported positive.

From the e-mail that went out to Dickerson parents:

“All health and safety measures have been in place and we will continue to isolate individuals with symptoms or a diagnosis of COVID-19, identify close contacts, and clean and disinfect the school building.”

The letter noted that the school underwent two days of deep cleaning this week—schools were closed Tuesday for election day and Wednesday is a non-instructional day—and stressed there’s not much more information that can be provided:

“I want to reiterate, this LOW RISK letter is being provided in an abundance of caution so you may assess and monitor your child’s symptoms and act accordingly. Please continue to monitor your child’s health daily for fever and symptoms of respiratory illness.  

“In this particular situation, if your child had been identified as a close contact, you would have already been notified by the school, receiving additional advisement, including quarantine dates.

“I know not having additional information may be frustrating and makes us all uneasy, however I want to safeguard our email boxes and front office from being bombarded with questions we are unable to answer. Again, the school is not allowed to provide any additional information regarding our student/teacher/staff member who tested positive for COVID-19.”

The parent has sent a message to the district, adding this comment: “I don’t feel confident in the data you are publishing if you are not including confirmed cases in your counts. I would like to know why this case (and possibly others) is not being counted.”

A spokeswoman for the Cobb school district said there has not been a confirmed case at Dickerson among students or staff so it was not included in the COVID statistical update.

She said she could not explain further who that person was, but said that when such an occasion occurs, Cobb and Douglas Public Health asks the district to send the “low-risk” message.

“We encourage all students, staff, and parents to follow the guidance and detail that is available which will be found in the letters they receive from Cobb & Douglas Public Health,” the Cobb school district spokeswoman said.

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