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Metro Atlanta school districts adjusting policies amid COVID surge

Here's what the state's four largest school districts are doing as students return to in-person or virtual learning.

ATLANTA — School district policies are changing this week, with many districts shortening quarantine times for students exposed to COVID – while others are enforcing mask mandates and virtual learning. 

It's a lot to keep track of for parents who are trying to keep their kids safe. 

11Alive's Kaitlyn Ross is tracking the return to learning for students in the state's four largest school districts and frustration as parents try to navigate the changing policies. 

"This pandemic has been fluid and I feel gravely mismanaged by our school district," Vidya Anderson said, whose kids attend school in Cobb County. 

Anderson said she's homeschooling her 8-year-old daughter now but is letting her eldest son go back in-person after he was vaccinated. 

"I am sending him back tomorrow – he is a fully vaccinated, masked, responsible child and we are just hoping and praying for the best," she said. 

Anderson said she's frustrated that more hasn't changed in Cobb County as COVID-19 infections rise across the state.

"It's a disaster, cases continue to rise in staff and students. We have optional masks, which is unbelievable at this point in the pandemic," she said.

Cobb County students return in-person Wednesday, while Gwinnett County goes back on Thursday. Meanwhile, DeKalb and Fulton counties announced they would stay virtual through the end of the week with students and staff testing positive for COVID. 

All four school districts sent out notices to parents acknowledging that the numbers of COVID infections in Georgia are up – and the data backs that up. Data shows a spike in kids younger than 17 after the holidays, although adults 30 to 57 are still driving the surge.

Although Gwinnett County is mandating masks in its schools, Cobb County is "strongly encouraging" face coverings. 

Anderson added she's frustrated that there's not a uniform standard.

"It's hard to not use other school districts who have a great, decisive plan in place as benchmarks," she said. 

She also worries cases in Cobb County will continue to rise as students head back to the classroom. 

"We are looking for guidance from our school district and we are getting none of that," she said.

Click here for a full list of COVID guidelines across metro Atlanta's school districts.