COVID Cases Rise in Georgia's Largest School District Despite Child Mask Mandate

COVID-19 cases are increasing in Georgia's largest school district, despite there being a mandate in place for children to wear masks at school.

School administrators say that the case numbers are low, but rising in the district.

"We are seeing a positive and probable case rate much higher than we anticipated," Associate Superintendent Al Turner told WASB-TV.

About 0.5 percent, or 947 students, have been impacted by COVID-19 in the district so far, administrators said.

On Thursday, Gwinnett County Public Schools confirmed an additional 112 confirmed cases at the schools over the last 24 hours. It included 14 staff and 98 students, along with another 31 probable cases and 292 close contacts.

"Students who are testing positive are testing positive because of community spread, and are coming into the schools and such," said Turner.

Lindsey Acciarito, a parent in the district, believes the mask mandate has helped to keep numbers low. A sufferer of long-COVID, Acciarito is still feeling the effects of the virus.

"I know I'm incredibly fortunate to be alive," she told the news channel. "I hope we will keep it in place until children can be vaccinated."

On July 27, Gwinnett County Public Schools issued the mask mandate for K-12 students based on the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.

Archer and Mill Creek high schools are the two schools in the district with the highest number of confirmed cases, recording 25 and 22 cases as of Thursday. Kids went back to school in United States in mid-August.

Newsweek has contacted the school district for more comment.

On Thursday, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported that a long-time teacher at a school in Gwinnett County recently died of COVID-19.

Janet Bruce, who taught science at Grayson High School, died on August 12 aged 50.

On Tuesday, Georgia reached the grim milestone of confirming more than 1 million COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, as the more transmissible Delta variant has ripped through the state.

The state recorded 8,014 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to the most recent CDC data. The numbers of new cases have been surging in the southern state since the end of June.

Hospitalizations are also on the rise in Georgia. As of Friday morning, 89.6 percent of the intensive care unit beds statewide were in use, with eight out of Georgia's 14 regions showing ICU bed usage rate at over 90 percent capacity, according to data from the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Multiple officials have confirmed that the vast majority of Georgia's hospitalized patients are unvaccinated.

Kid in Mask at School
A child puts her mask back on after finishing lunch at a socially distanced table in the cafeteria of Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. COVID-19 cases are increasing in Georgia’s largest school district, despite there being a mandate in place for children to wear masks at school. Getty Images/Jon Cherry