State School Superintendent Richard Woods (Photo by Beau Evans)

ATLANTA – State School Superintendent Richard Woods was recently hospitalized with a serious case of COVID-19 despite having been vaccinated, Woods announced Tuesday in a written statement urging Georgians to get the shot.

“Though my symptoms were severe, and I did experience a breakthrough case, my doctors fully believe that the vaccine assisted in mitigating the effects of the virus and kept me alive during the ordeal,” he wrote. ”I encourage all who are eligible to consult with their doctor and prayerfully and thoughtfully consider getting vaccinated.”   

Woods tested positive for COVID-19 several weeks ago before the start of the new school year in Georgia and entered the hospital as classes in some school districts got underway.

The superintendent endorsed Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to let individual districts decide whether to require students and teachers to wear masks to discourage the spread of the virus. Local superintendents asked for that flexibility, Woods wrote.

Some school districts across the state have taken advantage of that flexibility by imposing mask requirements as cases of the virus rise inside their schools.

“Though there is a renewed challenge this school year due to the Delta variant, school leaders are in a much stronger position than last year,” Woods wrote.

“Vaccines are widely available; our schools have become more accustomed to, and experienced with, quarantining and mitigation practices; there are additional resources to deploy; we are better prepared and have better infrastructure for remote learning.”

While the issue of mask mandates for classrooms has proven divisive, Woods wrote that all sides of the debate agree it’s time to end online instruction.

“There’s a shared belief that in-person learning is the most effective learning environment for our kids,” he wrote. “However, the safety of all must be our priority.

“As school leaders do everything possible to keep their doors open and in-person learning going, we have a responsibility to do our part, too. This virus cannot be strangled by mandates or planned into non-existence, but we can work together to overcome this common threat.”