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COVID-19 infects more Georgia students; Kemp defends schools

COVID-19 infects more Georgia students; Kemp defends
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ATLANTA (AP) – A north Georgia school system that refused to provide its latest update on the coronavirus to a local newspaper now reports that 85 of its students are being quarantined.

Ten students and nine employees have tested positive for COVID-19, the Lumpkin County School System reported on its website this week, which is the second week of the new school year.

The dispute between the school system and the local media comes amid debate over whether Georgia schools should be open for in-person learning. One of the state’s biggest school districts – Cherokee County – has temporarily closed three large high schools after the virus led to the quarantines of more than 2,000 of its students.

In a fiery news conference Wednesday afternoon, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp defended the school systems.

Asked about the recent closure of the Cherokee County high schools, Kemp said the spread of the virus “didn’t happen in the schools for the most part. It happened because people came back to school and they already had the coronavirus.”

“So is that the government’s fault? Is that the school’s fault? No, it is not,” Kemp said.

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In Dahlonega, the school superintendent wouldn’t give out the coronavirus numbers in time for them to be included in the weekly newspaper’s print edition amid a dispute with the paper over its coverage, The Dahlonega Nugget reported.

In an email Monday to school board members and the newspaper, Superintendent Rob Brown accused the paper of spreading fear in the community.

“The last time we shared data with The Nugget directly, the data was used for an online article with a headline that created unnecessary fear and panic,” Brown wrote in the email.

The objectionable headline from an Aug. 7 story: “Numerous Lumpkin teachers test positive for COVID-19 as first day approaches.”

In an earlier email, Brown suggested his own headlines for the newspaper.

“A headline such as ‘LC Schools Closely Monitoring COVID Data’ or ‘Less than 5% of the 540 LC Employees Impacted by COVID’ could have shared the same information without causing undue fear and concern,” Brown wrote.

The school system plans to update its virus numbers on its website every Tuesday and Thursday. It does not plan to provide a school-by-school breakdown of where the cases have been discovered.

The school system, which began its school year on Aug. 10, serves about 3,830 students in the county about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Atlanta.

It’s in the same county where hundreds of young people gathered recently for a party near the University of North Georgia’s Dahlonega campus. Video of the party made national news and caused alarm in Georgia.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and those with existing health problems, it can cause more severe or fatal illness.


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