Several counties across the U.S. have temporarily suspended school because of a surge in coronavirus cases among students and faculty early in the academic year.

Why it matters: Richard Besser, former acting director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told NBC this week he believes more schools will close due to COVID-19 than last year because the Delta variant spreads with greater ease than other versions of the virus.

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“I think this fall is going to be really challenging for schools,” Besser said. “I expect that it’s going to jump around different classrooms, and schools will be forced to shut down more than they did in fact last year.”

Counties and schools that have canceled classes:

Burke County, Georgia, announced Friday that schools would be canceled for two weeks after more than 40 new cases were recorded among students in the district.

Ware County, Georgia, said it would cancel classes for two weeks “due to a sharp increase in the number of active positive COVID cases reported among students and staff members” after just over a week in session.

Schools in Georgia’s Macon, Taliaferro, Glascock and Talbot counties shut down for two weeks or transitioned to virtual learning.

Stone High School in Wiggins, Mississippi, said this week it would transition to virtual classes for two weeks because of new virus cases, though the school did not disclose the exten of the outbreak, according to WLOX, an ABC/CBS-affiliated television station.

South Hancock Elementary School in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, said this week it would close for two weeks after six full days of school because eight students had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Sun Herald.

The big picture: It is so far unclear whether the Delta variant causes a more serious illness in children and teens than other versions of the virus, though more adolescents are being admitted to hospitals because of COVID.

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The Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve coronavirus vaccines for children under age 12.

Major pediatrician organizations have called on the FDA to act faster to authorize vaccines for young children.

Go deeper: Nearly 500 students in Palm Beach County, Florida are quarantined

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