After posting images of jammed and overcrowded school hallways with students not wearing face masks, at least two students from North Paulding High School are now currently facing suspension. The school's principal has also warned other students against the same act.
The school located in Dallas, Ga, which is only an hour away from Atlanta. Last week, the school gained popularity after pictures and videos of the crowded hallways as the school re-opened became viral on social media.
The images were of a sea of high schoolers walking to and fro a hallway without any facial coverings. It then raised concerns online, as netizens voiced out and called out the way the reopening of schools is being handled amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Brian Ottot, Schools Superintendent of Paulding County, sent letters to the parents that while the images did not look good, they lacked the context of what is really happening inside the school with a 2000-student population. He also added that masks were a "personal choice" and not mandatory.
In a report by BuzzFeed News, 15-year-old Hannah Watters who captured the scenario inside the school received a five-day suspension after reportedly violating the students' code of conduct of the district.
Based on the code of conduct, students are not allowed to use recording devices without permission from an administrator or use social media during the day.
In an interview with the outlet, Watters said that the schools opened while it is not safe. She also called out the county not following guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention by not making precautionary measures mandatory. Moreover, Watters said that while she understands that she has violated the code of conduct, she thinks the punishment given to her was overly harsh.
Aside from Watters, another student, who wanted to remain anonymous said that he was also given disciplinary action for doing the same thing.
Last Wednesday, in an audio that was obtained by CBS 46, the school's principal Gabe Carmona issued a warning to students not to follow Watters and the other students or they will be facing consequences.
Meanwhile, in the mailed letter that the superintendent sent out to the parents, it was specified that the district will be providing cloth masks and face shields to its staff. It was also added that action will be taken in order to reduce the crowding in hallways.
He also added that wearing masks and social distancing is highly encouraged in the school. However, he also indicated that there could be challenges to enforce this, especially in classrooms and school buses.
In addition, he also stated that they will be reviewing the discipline matters that have happened this week after the photos went viral. He also emphasized that he wanted to ensure the community that the issues that have sparked in the past week will be addressed accordingly, The Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, the school's principal is yet to give his comments on the matters.