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260 Gwinnett Schools employees 'excluded from work' due to confirmed COVID or contact

Officials said the cases are the result of community spread, meaning people who have called in and have not been at school or work.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — COVID-19 cases or contact with people who have the illness has forced roughly 260 employees to be "excluded from work" in Georgia's largest school district.

The data, confirmed by the Gwinnett County Public School System, comes just days ahead of the delayed first day of classes - which will be completely digital because of the virus. 

A spokesperson for the school system said that number is fluid and that the school system continues to have new reports while others return to work. The data is current as of July 30.

"Through tracing, we know that the majority of these cases are the result of community spread, meaning we have people who have called in to report who have not been at school or work," a spokesperson said.

In addition to tracing protocols and a system for handling positive cases, the system is also working with the health department when there are two or more related cases a spokesperson said.

According to data provided by the school system, it's also the largest employer in Gwinnett County with 24,900 staff members. That includes full and part-time positions and substitutes. Those employees are spread out over 141 schools including 80 elementary schools, 29 middle schools, and 23 high schools that serve 180,000 students.

Gwinnett County Public Schools CEO/Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks announced on July 20 that the district was reversing course and starting the upcoming school year fully digital due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in Georgia.

This came days after school officials discussed plans for the 2020-2021 school year during a heated meeting. The Board said at that meeting that it would go forward with plans to give families the choice of virtual or in-person learning for the upcoming school year.

With a rise in COVID-19 cases, and Gwinnett, in particular, leading the state with confirmed cases, that plan changed.

The first day of class in Gwinnett is set for Aug. 12.