WAYCROSS, Ga. (WSAV) – Ware County Schools is suspending classes for the next two weeks amid a “sharp increase” in COVID-19 cases.

The announcement was made Friday after students were released early for a deep cleaning of all school facilities.

Officials say until Tuesday, Sept. 7, no instruction will take place, even virtually.

The same decision was made in Burke County, near Augusta. Students in the public school system won’t be reporting for classes for the next two weeks.

Closer to home, the Long County School District and a private school in Savannah have also decided to halt in-person classes, though instruction will continue virtually.

It’s been less than two weeks since Ware County’s 5,905 students returned. In that time, 76 students have tested positive and 279 have been quarantined, according to the latest report.

Of the 950 Ware County Schools employees, 67 are COVID positive and 150 are in quarantine for possible exposure.

Masks were not mandated within the district, though they were strongly recommended.

Extra-curricular practices and competitions will continue as scheduled, according to the district, however, no instruction will take place.

The announcement received a mixed reaction on the district’s Facebook page.

How does it make sense that practices and games will continue but school can’t be in session?”

“In my opinion, that is a very wise decision.”

“Some of this could have been prevented, but parents wanted no mask mandate. Can’t have it both ways.”

“This is ridiculous!”

“I’m just confused as to why we don’t have some instructional options. The last thing we need is for our kids to get further behind.”

In a response to one comment, the district said the decision was made to give staff and students time to recover.

“Some staff members are dealing with their own illness or sickness in their families, so they are unable to work right now,” Ware County Schools commented. “Staff members at two schools are grieving significant losses. Many of our staff members have reported that this has been the most difficult start of a new year they’ve ever experienced.”

The district said plans are in the works to distribute Chromebooks to students who might not have received one, and parents should look for an announcement from their child’s school.

Staff members are expected to return to work on Monday, Aug. 30, to prepare for classes.