Governor Brian Kemp

Governor Brian Kemp 

ATLANTA (CBS46) — Even as COVID cases soar because of the more contagious omicron variant, Gov. Brian Kemp has given Georgia school districts the go-ahead to ease COVID-19 protocols. 

On Twitter Thursday, Kemp posted a letter that he and Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the state's health commissioner, sent to school superintendents. The tweet also contained a message that said, "Our chief goal is to keep our kids in the classroom with minimal disruption to their education." 

In the letter, Kemp and Toomey said the changes they're recommending "more accurately reflect the science behind the new variant."

The letter also stated, "Additionally, DPH (Department of Public Health) posted an updated administrative order for isolation and quarantine that adds educators and education staff to those persons that may be permitted to return to work following a COVID-19 exposure, regardless of vaccination status or point of exposure, if their employer deems it necessary to ensure adequate staffing and so long as they remain asymptomatic, wear a mask while at work, and comply with other quarantine requirements."

It didn’t take the Cobb County School District long to update its COVID-19 protocols.

In an email to parents, school officials said they will no longer do contact tracing.

"We know contact tracing has not been as efficient and effective as we want it to be for you and your family," the email reads. "We continue to encourage all Cobb families to make health decisions which are best for you and to not send students to school sick."

Asymptomatic Cobb County students and staff may return to school immediately, although they must wear masks for seven days after exposure, according to the new protocols.

Anyone testing positive must still isolate.

"It feels like a joke," said Cobb County mother of three Melanie Ponchot.

She said she thinks the school district should at least implement a “Test to Stay” program like Atlanta Public Schools will begin later this month, allowing exposed students and staff to return to school if they test negative and have no symptoms.

“If there were testing in place, it would make me feel like the schools actually cared," she said, "and I know there’s problems with testing, but at least it feels like you’re trying.” 

Meanwhile, Clayton County public schools have yet to announce their COVID-19 response plan. The superintendent is expected to update parents during a YouTube session Friday afternoon. 

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