All 5th graders at a Cobb elementary school sent home, parents want action

All fifth graders at a Cobb County elementary school were sent home Wednesday. They will all have to learn virtually for the next 10 days because of high COVID-19 numbers.

Most parents were alarmed when they got the email telling them to get to the school before noon to pick up their child.

Julia Rohan's daughter is a student at East Side Elementary. She and all of her classmates will be virtual through August 20. Rohan rushed to the school after receiving the urgent email.

"Pick up our children by 11 because there was a high enough outbreak that they didn't want any more children interacting during lunch or on the buses," said Rohan.

Rohan is pleased the principal took action quickly and wishes school board members would do more to protect the children.

Other parents agree.

More than 2,700 signed a petition to make masks mandatory in Cobb County Schools. Right now, masks are optional.

"There are many measures we can take but mandating masks is the simplest we did it last year it worked why not reinstate it. It seems pretty reasonable," said Jin Cai who started the petition.

Some of the same parents who signed the petition are also planning to rally outside the next school board meeting on August 19.

"I think that could make a difference if the board sees how angry everyone is," said Eric Verner who is a parent of a student at East Side.

Other parents have also planned a protest calling for a mask mandate for Thursday afternoon outside the school board headquarters.

"Today's events triggered even more anxiety. It's all over social media. Parents are discussing what we can do to protect our children," said Cai.

COVID-19 cases have been rising across the state with the more virulent Delta variant now accounting for more than 90% of new cases across the state, according to health officials.

As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the two-week average of new COVID-19 positive PCR tests has risen to 3,272, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. The GDPH data also shows for the second day in a row, the combined positive PCR and antigen tests have inched higher, hovering just below 7,000, a number not seen since the end of January. The seven-day average is now above 5,536.

Vaccinations in Georgia this week surpassed 9 million doses with 46.5% of those 12 and older who can receive the vaccine is fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That number lags behind the national average of 58.8%.

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