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Etowah High School in Cherokee County temporarily closing due to COVID-19

'As result of the confirmed cases, 294 students and staff are under quarantine.'

CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — In-person classes have been put on hold at Etowah High School in Cherokee County due to the coronavirus.

A message from Superintendent Brian Hightower was posted on the Cherokee County School District's website say that they are closing the school at the end of classes on Tuesday. They hope to reopen on Monday, August 31.

"This decision was not made lightly; it was made with the support of School Board Members, and was determined, as all of our quarantine decisions are made, in consideration with the Department of Public Health," the message reads.

COVID-19 has been a big challenge for school districts who have returned to class. Cherokee schools reopened on August 3 and as of Tuesday, the district said they've had 59 positive cases confirmed among students and staff, which led them two a two-week quarantine for 925 students and staff. 

Etowah alone has 14 confirmed cases, with test results still pending for another 15 students. 

"And as a result of the confirmed cases, 294 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, that total would increase dramatically," Hightower said in his message about Etowah. 

RELATED: Update: More than 800 Cherokee County students in quarantine as precaution amid rising COVID cases

All students at that campus will stay home and teachers will spend Wednesday shifting to remote learning. 

"We will deep clean the building on Wednesday, and remote learning, through the Canvas learning management system, will begin on Thursday, Aug. 13," the message said.

The timeline doesn't affect students who are already enrolled in digital learning with the district. The letter also added that extracurricular activities would continue after school due to the limited size of the groups and safety measures that are in place.

Hightower also mentioned in the letter the importance of wearing masks, especially when social distancing is not feasible. 

"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," he said. 

Some Georgia schools have received backlash for photos that have been posted on social media showing the lack of social distancing and crowded hallways.

A photo posted to social media last week pictured a large group of students not wearing masks at Etowah taking their traditional first day of school group picture. 11Alive decided to also blur the faces of the students.

Credit: Provided

RELATED: Neither masks nor social distancing required | First look inside Georgia's schools

Hightower said the district will be transparent about about the situation and encouraged others to stay home when they are sick.

"We need our entire community to help us keep our promise – we need you to stay home when you’re sick; get tested if you’re symptomatic; report your child’s positive test to our school; follow the quarantine and limit interaction with non-family members during this period; social distance when you can and wear a mask when you can’t," he added.

Read the full letter here.

RELATED: Coronavirus in Georgia | Latest numbers for Tuesday, Aug. 11

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