Published by WASHINGTONPOST.COM
Summary generated on August 10, 2020
A cluster of coronavirus cases has emerged at a Georgia high school that drew national attention last week after students posted pictures and videos of their peers walking without masks in tightly packed hallways, according to a letter sent to parents over the weekend.
Six students and three staff members at North Paulding High School have reported testing positive for the virus, Principal Gabe Carmona wrote in the letter, which was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Superintendent Brian Otott later announced that the school will close Monday and Tuesday and revert to virtual learning while the building is cleaned.
The infections validate concerns in Georgia and nationwide that crowded conditions in the nation's K-12 schools could facilitate virus transmission as the new academic year begins.
Carmona, the principal, said custodial workers were cleaning and disinfecting the school building daily - a practice that offers only marginal protections against the virus, which primarily spreads through person-to-person contact, not from contaminated surfaces.
"The health and well-being of our staff and students remains our highest priority," Carmona said, "And we are continuing to adjust and improve our protocols for in-person instruction to make our school the safest possible learning environment."
A representative for the Paulding County School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.
The school of more than 2,000 in Dallas, Ga., was thrown into the national spotlight last week when students posted images on social media showing seas of students milling through the halls between classes.
The school district suspended two students who shared the images, prompting another wave of negative attention from critics who said administrators were silencing them.
Lynne Watters, the mother of one of the students, said her daughter would be able to return to school Monday with her disciplinary record unblemished.