Last week, pictures of maskless students crowding the hall of Georgia’s freshly reopened North Paulding High School went viral and raised questions all over the internet as to whether getting kids back to school while coronavirus cases are still on the rise is a good idea.
These are the kinds of tweets that were being shared:
This is the first day of school in Paulding County, Georgia. pic.twitter.com/fzdidaAABM
— 🇯🇲Black🇭🇹Aziz🇳🇬aNANsi🇹🇹 (@Freeyourmindkid) August 4, 2020
Paulding County, Georgia:
First day of school.
4 masks – if you zoom in — and zero social distancing.
This is gonna end badly… pic.twitter.com/pGUwzRr6VN
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) August 4, 2020
Two students involved with posting the images were suspended, including Hannah Watters, who said: “There was no social distancing, a 10% mask use rate, it was chaos!”
After a national outcry, the district reversed course and the kids were allowed to return.
Watters raised her concerns after the district called mask-wearing a “personal choice” and acknowledged that social distancing “will not be possible to enforce” in most cases.
One school nurse in the district resigned over concerns about virus safety.
“I don’t feel supported. I don’t feel safe,” Amy Westmoreland told local news, adding that she made the decision even before the photos circulated. “I feel as though I need to take a stand so that these children who don’t have a voice and are being discouraged from speaking have a voice.”
Meanwhile, it turns out nine people at that school have already been infected. In a letter sent to parents Saturday and cited by ABC News, principal Gabe Carmona explained that six students and three staff members have since tested positive for the virus.
“We have anticipated that COVID-19 would impact us as it has nearly every community, and the district has worked in partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to proactively implement safety precautions and response plans,” the letter reads.
The school announced Sunday it will be closed for in-person classes on Monday and Tuesday.
The tally of confirmed coronavirus cases in Paulding County, as of Saturday afternoon, reached 1,651, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. There have been a total of 22 deaths and 123 hospitalizations in the area due to the virus since the pandemic started.