Nine people, including six students, tested positive for the coronavirus this week at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia. The school came under a national microscope after photos of a packed hallway with very few students wearing masks went viral last week. Two students who took the photos, including 15-year-old Hannah Watters, were suspended for sharing the photos, although their suspensions were later rescinded.
Parents received a letter Saturday, confirming six students and three staff members tested positive for the virus, reports ABC News. The positive tests were conducted privately. "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. It did not explain if the school plans to close or when any of the people who tested positive will quarantine. It does note custodians will continue the daily disinfecting protocols.
Day two at North Paulding High School. It is just as bad. We were stopped because it was jammed. We are close enough to the point where I got pushed multiple go to second block. This is not ok. Not to mention the 10% mask rate. pic.twitter.com/JKbGYqG9RS— hannah (@ihateiceman) August 4, 2020
North Paulding High School and Paulding County, west of Atlanta, started its school year on Monday. The next day, photos of the packed hallways, showing students shoulder to shoulder and few wearing masks went viral. Two students, including Watters, were suspended for sharing the pictures. The school reportedly even announced that students who post similar photos could be suspended on the loudspeaker.
After national pushback and criticism, the two suspensions were lifted on Friday. Before Saturday's letter, Watters told ABC News she would go back to the school. "Going in [to school] I was nervous, but trusting that Paulding would keep us safe," Watters said. "But it was worse than I thought it was going to be. I didn't feel safe, especially coming home to family after going to school."
This is what it looks like even with split dismissal. pic.twitter.com/erCA2lhOUb— hannah (@ihateiceman) August 4, 2020
Angie Franks told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution both of her nephews attended the school and tested positive for the coronavirus. One boy said he could not smell, so his mother took him to get a test, which came back positive on Tuesday. His brother also began showing symptoms of COVID-19 and tested positive as well. They are both quarantining at home.
"They sat in class all day long with no masks and not social distancing," Franks told the AJC. "And I have no idea how many kids they came into contact with." Paulding County Schools have reported 53 cases of the coronavirus within the school district since July 1, including 23 North Paulding High School students, WSB-TV reports.