Cobb schools announce expansion of virtual learning, but still ignore CDC recommendations on masks

The logo on front of a Cobb County School District facilityCobb County School District sign (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The Cobb County School District announced in a press release that they would expand virtual learning options with applications open in the fall for sessions beginning in January, but that the district will continue to ignore recommendations of the CDC that all students, teachers and staff be masked to slow the spread of COVID-19.

Read the CCSD press release reprinted below:

Superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced during the Cobb Schools Board of Education meeting that families will once again have an opportunity to choose the learning environment that best supports the needs of their student(s). 

Later this fall, Cobb families will be able to apply for expanded openings in the Cobb Online Learning Academy and Elementary Virtual Program that will open in January, the start of the second semester of the 2020-2021 school year. Spots in the expanded online programs will be limited and will be awarded via a lottery system. More information about the expanded programs and how families can apply will be announced in the future. The lottery window will open mid-to-late October, and students will be selected through the lottery by mid-to-late November. 


The Superintendent also explained that masks would remain optional in Cobb County schools.

“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. Mandatory masking is not without a cost. We recognize that there are negative impacts to school-age children properly wearing a mask during the duration of the school day. The data analysis is obviously very complex during this pandemic. 

We have made a continuous effort to allow families to have a choice, both in the type of instruction, whether it be face to face or virtual, and in the decision about what is best for their families in regards to masks. We have also encouraged vaccinations but believe it’s also a personal choice for each employee, student, and family to make based on their individual situation. At this time, I do not believe it is appropriate to mandate either decision, which would remove the ability for each family to make the best decision for them as a family,” said Superintendent Chris Ragsdale.

A presentation offered by Chief Strategy & Accountability Officer John Floresta also provided more excellent news. Cobb families learned that no matter the learning environment families have chosen for their students, they can rest assured that Cobb students are leading their state and national peers. 

The presentation compared student outcomes to school districts across the country and state that are most similar to the Cobb County School District in terms of socioeconomic status, percentage of students with disabilities, percentage of English learners, and ethnicity/race distribution. 

In comparison to those Districts that are most similar, Cobb ranked third in math. Cobb’s three state peers were not even in the top five among the group nor were they above the national average. Like other assessments, Cobb ranked above the national and state average. 

For Language Arts, Cobb students ranked second. When looking at how Cobb students stack up to students in the Atlanta metro on the SAT, Cobb students once again lead the way, topping Gwinnett, Fulton, Marietta, along with the state and national average. Cobb students rank second for success on the ACT and topped the list for the CCRPI when results were last released. 

For students who attend a Cobb high school all four years, students graduate at a rate of 99.1%. 

“There is no better measurement of student success than what the real graduation rate shows when students continue to attend a Cobb high school for their entire high school career,” Superintendent Ragsdale said. 

In addition to the presentation on how Cobb students are succeeding at a higher rate than their peers, Board members also discussed the $1200 bonus for Cobb bus drivers and monitors that Superintendent Ragsdale recently announced

“As the first face of our Cobb team that many of our students and parents see every day, our bus drivers and monitors are critical to helping our students start a successful day of learning. The bonus supports our team’s goal of hiring the best and keeping the best,” said Chief Operations Officer Marc Smith.