Cobb County Schools revise COVID-19 protocols first week back

coronavirus image -- a white sphere with red corona spikes emanating outwardThis illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (public domain image)

By Rebecca Gaunt

Three days into the school year and Cobb County School District has revised its guidelines for face masks and quarantine.

Prior guidance stated that masks were “optional for students and staff in school buildings, on school buses, and at extracurricular activities.” The updated guidance now says that masks are “strongly encouraged but optional for students and staff, unless following CCSD quarantine protocol.”

The previous statement on quarantine protocol stated that anyone identified as a close contact would be required to isolate in accordance with CDC and DPH guidelines.

Now anyone who comes into close contact with COVID-19 can return to school or work the next day if asymptomatic. They must wear a mask for ten days.

The change follows several days of confusion over the quarantine policy. CCSD had announced quarantine protocols would align with CDC and DPH guidelines, which called for unvaccinated individuals to quarantine seven, 10 or 14 days depending on symptoms and test results, but some parents reported conflicting information from schools about the length of time their child would be out. Media requests from multiple outlets for clarification on the policy from CCSD were not answered.

After last week’s sneak peek events at Cobb schools, parents from King Springs Elementary, Teasley Elementary, Campbell Middle School and Ford Elementary posted low risk notification letters they received. Parents from additional schools reported also receiving low risk exposure letters.

CCSD released the initial guidelines making masks optional before the CDC began recommending everyone return to masking indoors regardless of vaccination status. While some school systems have reversed optional mask policies in light of the updated recommendations, Cobb opted to continue to not mandate masks.

Another change to the policy: non-staff volunteers will now have limited access during the instructional day. Volunteers after school are at the discretion of the principal. Parents and guardians cannot eat lunch with their child in the cafeteria either.

Cobb County is on alert for “high community transmission,” of COVID-19 according to the Cobb & Douglas Public Health website.

Rebecca Gaunt earned a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in education from Oglethorpe University. After teaching elementary school for several years, she returned to writing. She lives in Marietta with her husband, son, two cats, and a dog. In her spare time, she loves to read, binge Netflix and travel.