Children wear face masks as they wait on line to enter their school on September 29, 2020. On Friday, a Georgia school district closed its doors for two weeks due to COVID-19. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 21 (UPI) -- A school district in south-central Georgia announced it has canceled classes for two weeks due to rising COVID-19 cases among students and staff that have left schools short staffed.
The Lamar County School System said it will begin a two-week "pause" starting Monday amid the surge of cases. The district said it currently has 36 staff members out of school and daily student absences exceeding 600.
"Between positive cases and quarantines, we are unable to cover our school bus routes, our kitchen staff is incomplete and we cannot properly supervise all classrooms," a notice posted Friday on the district's website reads.
After the pause, the school system said it plans to resume classes Sept. 7 with a remote four-day school week that will last through Oct. 8. Officials said they will reassess COVID-19 rates and determine future plans going forward.
Lamar County has one of the highest per-capita case rates in Georgia, reporting 252 cases of COVID-19 over the past two weeks, a rate of 1,303 per 100,000 people during that time period. Overall, Georgia had more than 66,000 cases over the past two weeks, a rate of 610 per 100,000 people, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
The United States reported a seven-day moving average of 130,000 cases Thursday, up from 105,000 cases two weeks prior. There was a seven-day moving average of 686 deaths Thursday, up from 529 two weeks ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
Lamar County's shutdown comes as school districts across the country grapple with rising cases of COVID-19 fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant.
One school district in Hillsborough County, Fla., said it had nearly 5,600 students in quarantine and four Broward County, Fla., teachers died of COVID-19 within three days last week.
Many districts are requiring students and teachers to wear face coverings while in school, but the governors of Florida and Texas have both signed orders banning local authorities from mandating masks.
The Florida Board of Education on Friday ordered two school districts -- in Alachua and Broward counties -- to drop their mask requirements or lose state funding.