EAST COBB, GA — Cobb County’s schools joined other area districts Thursday in announcing that fall classes would be online only.
Speaking to the Cobb County Board of Education in an online meeting, Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said he made the decision because “we didn’t have any more information than the people asking the questions” about mask use and safety standards.
Ragsdale said guidance from Dr. Janet Memark of Cobb & Douglas Public Health — who emphasized that the county is in a state of “high transmission” — helped him make up his mind.
As of Thursday, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported that 258 Cobb County residents have died of COVID-19, second only to Fulton County. The health department also reported that Cobb had confirmed 7,713 cases of COVID-19, placing it fourth out of 159 Georgia counties.
Ragsdale told the board that kids in classrooms not only would be unsafe, they could also help spread the coronavirus to other groups.
The superintendent declined to set a specific date for returning to classrooms, explaining that he wanted face-to-face instruction “as soon as humanly possible,” but not at the expense of safety.
“Our teachers cannot teach in an environment in which they do not feel safe,” Ragsdale said. “Our students cannot learn in an environment in which they do not feel safe.”
Classes, however, will still start on Aug. 17. The first day of school in Cobb County already has been pushed back once, from Aug. 3.
Clayton, DeKalb, Douglas and Fulton counties — along with Atlanta Public Schools and Marietta City Schools —have announced they will start their school years teaching online only.
For more information on the Cobb County School District’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, visit the COVID-19 resource page on its website.
Ragsdale’s announcement to the board in its entirety is posted to YouTube.
This article originally appeared on the East Cobb Patch