The broadly circulated picture from North Paulding High School in Dallas, Ga., confirmed college students crowded right into a packed hallway on their first day again to courses for the reason that coronavirus outbreak shuttered faculties within the spring. Few have been carrying masks, and there was little signal of social distancing. Then on Day 2, there was one other.
The photographs, which have been shared on social media and cited in information reviews, have rapidly come to represent a chaotic first week again in U.S. lecture rooms. Schools in states the place college students have returned, together with Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Indiana, have needed to provoke quarantines and in some circumstances shut down lecture rooms and whole faculties briefly after optimistic circumstances emerged.
A 15-year-old scholar at North Paulding, Hannah Watters, was initially suspended for 5 days for posting photos of the crowded hallways on Twitter, based on her mom, Lynne Watters, who mentioned she filed a grievance with the varsity on Thursday.
By Friday, Hannah mentioned, her suspension had been lifted and wiped from her file, with the varsity’s principal calling her mom to inform her that she might return to class on Monday.
Although she agreed that she had breached the varsity’s coverage, which prohibits filming college students and posting their photos to social media with out their consent, Hannah mentioned in an interview that she didn’t remorse doing in order the pictures had make clear the crowding and lack of social distancing in her faculty.
“My mom has always told me that she won’t get mad at us if we get in trouble as long as it’s ‘good trouble,’” Hannah mentioned, invoking the well-known phrase of Representative John Lewis, the civil rights chief who was laid to rest in Atlanta last week. “You’re bettering society and bettering the world, so those consequences don’t outweigh the end result.”
The high school and school district did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The superintendent of the Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, had defended his system’s reopening plan, saying in a letter to the community after the hallway photos circulated that the scenes were taken out of context. Students only remained in the hallways briefly while switching classes, he wrote, and the school was following recommendations issued by the Georgia Department of Education.
But he acknowledged, “There is no question that the photo does not look good.”
Masks are not required at the school, Mr. Otott said, though the administration strongly encourages them for students and staff members.
“Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” he wrote, adding that more than 2,000 students attend the high school.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
Back to School
Updated Aug. 8, 2020
The latest highlights as the first students return to U.S. schools.
The district’s guidelines say staff members will do their best to require students to maintain social distancing, but note that it would “not be possible to enforce social distancing in classrooms or on school buses unless it is a class or a bus with fewer students.”
A spokesman for the Georgia Department of Public Health’s northwest district, which includes Paulding County, said the agency offers advice about best practices for controlling the spread of the virus, but choices about what to do in schools are ultimately up to local officials.
“Each school system makes its own decisions,” said the spokesman, Logan Boss, adding that the department does not monitor schools to see if they are complying with its recommendations.
The high school opened for the school year on Monday even though there had already been reports of a coronavirus outbreak among members of the football team. Mr. Boss said he was not aware of students or staff members testing positive at North Paulding High, but he added, “There’s widespread community transmission in Paulding County.”
For Hannah, her return to class next week will be an anxious one. There is still the worry over the virus, and now also the stress of wondering how other students will respond to her having shared the images of the crowded hallway.
“Going back, I’m probably going to be just about as nervous as I was the first day of school,” she said, adding that she hopes people realize that she posted the pictures to advocate for the safety of everyone in the building.