Second Grader in Georgia Tests Positive for Coronavirus After First Day of School

In this photo posted on Twitter, students crowd a hallway, Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga. / AP

Two suburban Atlanta school districts that began in-person classes Monday with mask-optional policies face more questions about COVID-19 safety protocols after on-campus pictures showed students packed shoulder-to-shoulder. The day after school resumed, one school announced a second grader tested positive for the coronavirus, forcing the child’s teacher and classmates to be sent home to quarantine for two weeks, CBS affiliate WGCL-TV reports.

In Cherokee County, dozens of seniors gathered at two of the district’s six high schools to take traditional first-day-of-school senior photos, with students squeezing together in black outfits. No one in pictures at Sequoyah High School in Hickory Flat or Etowah High School in Woodstock wore a mask.

In Paulding County, student pictures taken Monday and Tuesday show crowded hallways at North Paulding High School in Dallas. Fewer than half of the students shown are wearing masks.

Critics widely derided the pictures on social media, although some residents of the counties voiced support.

Georgia’s largest school district, Gwinnett County, said Tuesday it hopes to make a phased return to face-to-face instruction after an all-remote start to classes. All students seeking in-person classes could be welcome by Sept. 8, in what Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks wrote is a “best case” scenario. More than 250 employees in the county have reported testing positive to the virus or being exposed to it.

Georgia hit a new weekly high for COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday, having averaged 51 confirmed deaths from the respiratory illness over the last seven days. Few die from the illness, and only a relatively small fraction become ill enough to be hospitalized.