COVID-19 cases low, but rising in state’s biggest school district despite mask mandate

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — After the first meeting since a mask mandate went into effect for the Gwinnett County School District, it does not look the requirement is going anywhere.

Administrators say the number of cases are low, but rising.

“We are seeing a positive and probable case rate much higher than we anticipated,” said Associate Superintendent Dr. Al Taylor.

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Overall, the COVID-19 numbers are very low, according to administrators. They say about 0.5%, or 947 students, are impacted so far.

“Students who are testing positive are testing positive because of community spread, and are coming into the schools and such,” Taylor said.

Many parents partially credit the mask mandate for keeping those numbers low. Lindsey Acciarito is one of those parents. She is a COVID-19 long-hauler still suffering effects of the virus.

“I know I’m incredibly fortunate to be alive,” she said. “I hope we will keep it in place until children can be vaccinated.”

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Other parents disagreed, stating the mask mandate was not about protecting kids.

“Your jig is up. Your mandate is not about safety. Admit it’s about money,” parent Holly Terrie said.

“Today it’s masks, what will it be tomorrow?,” asked parent Meg Rudnick.

Thursday’s meeting was the first for the district’s new superintendent, Dr. Calvin J. Watts. He warned that it’s ok to disagree with the district’s decisions.

“Yes, there are going to be hiccups,” he said. “We can and we will achieve. [It’s] simple, but not easy.”

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As of Thursday, there are 673 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the district. Another 1,128 students and staff are being counted as close contacts. Gwinnett County has about 200,000 students and employees.

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