As COVID-19 cases rise, Georgia updates return to school guidance

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Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations are on the rise in Georgia as educators grapple with how to safely return to school next month.

Today, the Georgia Department of Education released an update of its reopening guidance. While state education officials say this update should not require changes in already-developed plans by local school districts, the update does provide clarifications on issues like mask use.

According to the update, masks and face coverings are not state-mandated but are strongly recommended, particularly in settings where social distancing is difficult, such as during class changes, drop-offs and pickups.

The updates add a requirement for districts to keep a daily log of teachers, staff, and students who did not attend school due to COVID-19-related illness or were sent home due to COVID-19 symptoms, to assist in contact-tracing efforts.

Individual school districts can still implement prevention strategies above and beyond the recommendations laid out in this guidance and adopt instructional models that best serve their students, teachers, and community.

The update comes as the state saw 3,643 new cases Monday and 217 new hospitalizations. Georgia now has a total of 120,569 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 13,476 hospitalizations. 3,026 people have died from COVID-19 in Georgia.

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