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Etowah High

Georgia high school shuts down for the rest of the month after more than 900 are quarantined

Aug. 12, 2020
Students and staff were exposed to Covid-19 at Etowah High School in Woodstock, Ga.

The Cherokee County (Ga.) district has temporarily stopped in-person instruction at Etowah High School in Woodstock after more than 925 students and staff were placed in quarantine because of exposure to Covid-19.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the school will remain closed until Aug. 31.

Etowah High drew national attention last week after scores of students without masks were photographed shoulder to shoulder on the first day of classes.

Cherokee County Superintendent Brian Hightower says there have been 59 positive Covid-19 tests reported in the district since classes resumed. The cases have resulted in two-week quarantines for 925 students and staff.

“We know all parents do not believe the scientific research that indicates masks are beneficial, but I believe it and see masks as an important measure to help us keep schools open,” Hightower wrote Tuesday on the school district’s home page.

State School Superintendent Richard Woods says that school districts have the authority to require students to wear masks.

The Cherokee County district, which has more than 42,000 students, has let families choose between in-person and online schooling. About 3 in 4 have chosen classrooms.

“It was a total cluster; they just crammed kids in a class,” says Mandy Birdsong, whose son is a sophomore at Etowah High.

Birdsong says it will be difficult to persuade students to wear masks..

“Kids learn from their parents, so if their parents aren’t wearing masks, the kids won’t either,” she says. “I’m going out and seeing 70% of people still not wearing masks.”

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