COVID-struck Burke County closing schools, like 2 other local districts

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 11:31 AM EDT|Updated: Aug. 13, 2021 at 12:51 PM EDT
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WAYNESBORO, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Burke County Public Schools announced Friday that schools will close down for two weeks after 44 students and three staff members tested positive for coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the already shut-down Taliaferro County School System will keep kids at home longer than planned, and Glascock County schools remain closed until at least Aug. 23

In announcing its closure, Burke County Public Schools said the COVID cases seemed to most heavy affect Burke County High School, Burke County Middle School and Blakeney Elementary.

This week, the Burke County High School volleyball team had to quarantine, as did three classes at Blakeney.

The classes were quarantined after four COVID cases were reported in a three-class team in one grade level at Blakeney. After several students were sent home with symptoms, the Georgia Department of Public Health recommended quarantining the three-class team, school district spokeswoman Amy Nunnally said.

The decision to shut down came hours after the district had announced it planned to keep schools open but require masks starting Monday.

Instead, schools will close starting Monday, with a restart date of Aug. 30 being planned.

District leaders were meeting on Friday afternoon to discuss virtual learning plans, athletics and other matters.

Meanwhile schools remain closed until at least Aug. 30 in Taliaferro County.

The district shut down last week after four positive cases. That may not sound like a lot, but consider that the school has only 170 students from kindergarten all the way through high school.

The district had scheduled a tentative restart date next week but said Friday it will delay the restart until Aug. 30.

The district said days have been set aside from the fall and spring breaks to make up for lost time.

When students return, they will follow a mixed in-person and at-home schedule that will only have them in school two days a week. All students will learn from home on Fridays.

“Your child’s education is first and foremost on our minds, but a safe school environment is important also,” the district told parents in a Facebook post.

The district this week partnered with Lux Diagnostics to offer what it called a “very successful” COVID testing drive at the school on Thursday.

Next week, a COVID-19 vaccination drive is scheduled at the school from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Wednesday, offering the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for children 12 and up. You can register at, but organizers said no one will be turned away.

Glascock County schools also shut down this week after more than 100 people were quarantined last week within the first few days of school. At last count, 17 students and eight staff members had tested positive.

In addition to classes, all sports activities are canceled for this week, and the district is planning a tentative return date of Aug. 23 under a mixed in-person and at-home learning model.

The district also plans a range of safety measures to keep groups of students from having contact with each other, but masks will not be mandatory, only recommended.

Also in the news ...

MASK MANDATES: Parents gathered Thursday outside the Cobb County School District’s headquarters to demand mask mandates for students. “I would like them to put masks in place for all children,” one parent said. “They are unvaccinated, and they are at risk for hospitalization and death and permanent lifelong health issues.” Counterprotesters were there, too.

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