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By MYRA THRIFT

Staff Writer

The Ware County School System has temporarily suspended operations due to the recent surge in the Delta variant of COVID-19, a statement released Friday afternoon by the system said.

Because of a sharp increase in the number of active positive cases of the coronavirus reported among students and staff members as well as the number of individuals who are currently quarantined, the system has temporarily ceased daily operations for traditional and digital students and most staff members through Friday, August 27.

On Monday, August 30, all staff members will return to work for an additional week of planning. Students will return to school on Tuesday, September 7, an official with the school system said.

In-season extra-curricular practices and competitions will continue as scheduled.

The system announced on Wednesday that it would release students early on Friday to begin a process of sanitizing all its buildings and facilities.

Ware reported that as of Friday, a total of 143 staff or students had been affected by COVID-19 and a total of 829 staff or students had been quarantined.

These include Center Elementary, DAFFODIL, Memorial Drive, Ruskin Elementary, Transportation Department, Wacona Elementary School, Ware County High School, Ware County Middle School, Waresboro Elementary School, Waycross Middle School, Williams Heights Elementary School, Central Office, the release said.

In all, a total of 5,905 students are currently enrolled in the Ware County system. There are 76 students with positive COVID-19 status who’ve attended school during the exposure period and 679 students are in quarantine.

Of the total 950 Ware County school employees, 67 currently have positive virus status and 150 are in quarantine for possible exposure, according to a report from Paige Coker, director of special projects for the achool system.

Staff members who are required to work will be notified directly. During this two-week pause, no instruction will take place, a school official announced.

"We will release additional information as it becomes available,” the spokesperson said. “Please continue to watch our website and Facebook page for information and updates.”

The Ware County Board of Education held a called meeting at noon Friday to address personnel issues. At the beginning of the meeting, the board offered condolences to the family of Mary Catherine Shuman, fifth grade teacher at Wacona Elementary, who died Thursday, August 5. The board also gave condolences to the family of Dream Denton, a student at Ruskin.

Check back for updates on the story and see a full report in Wednesday’s Journal-Herald.

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