Enlarge /. Photo of North Paulding High School, tweeted by student Hannah Watters on Tuesday, August 4th.
There are nine newly confirmed COVID-19 cases in the high school that have suspended a 15-year-old who tweeted a photo of a hallway with maskless students.
North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, sent a letter to parents on Saturday saying, "At this point, six students and three staff had been at school for at least some time last week, which they have reported to us since have tested positive. "The letter was published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Most or even all six students and three staff who tested positive could have had the virus before the school reopened on Monday. As Harvard Medical School explains, "the time from exposure to symptoms (known as the incubation period) is believed to be three to 14 days, although symptoms typically appear within four or five days of exposure" and " a person with COVID- "19 can be contagious 48 to 72 hours before symptoms start. "
Regardless of when these nine people were infected, their presence in a school where the hallways were filled with students who weren't wearing masks means that many other students and teachers were at risk of infection that will appear in test results in the near future could. The high school has about 2,000 students.
Even before it reopened, some members of the high school soccer team had tested positive for COVID-19. "Paulding County Schools have reported 53 cases of coronavirus in the district since July 1," including 23 in high school, according to Channel 2 in Atlanta.
As we reported on Friday, the school gave student Hannah Watters a 5-day ban after she posted a photo on Twitter of "clogged" hallways and "10 percent mask rate". The school lifted its suspension after extensive media coverage. Another unnamed student who was suspended for a similar reason had also reversed the suspension, the Journal constitution says.
Students only attended classes in person Monday through Wednesday, as the district ran a brief first week "so that all of our schools can step down and see how things are going".
"They sat in class all day without masks"
The journal constitution gave details of some of the students who tested positive:
Angie Franks said that her two nephews who are in school have tested positive for COVID-19. One came home from school on Monday and couldn't smell, she said in an interview with the AJC. His mother took him for testing and the results the next day showed him positive, Franks said. By then, his brother was showing symptoms and was also being tested. Its positive results were returned on Wednesday.
Students are quarantined at home, but both went to school on Monday. Franks said the boy's father notified the school Tuesday and Wednesday after receiving their test results.
"They sat in class all day with no masks and no social distancing," Franks said. "And I have no idea how many children you've come into contact with."
She said the boys did not understand the severity of the virus and were not encouraged to wear masks in classrooms or in school hallways. The Paulding County's school system does not mandate masks for students and staff, although it does provide them for teachers.
An elementary school nurse who worked at another Paulding County school told Journal-Constitution that she resigned from her job last month due to inadequate pandemic policies, including lack of a mask mandate.
The school is being cleaned
The letter from the high school to parents reads: "Our supervisors continue to thoroughly clean and disinfect the school building and especially the affected areas every day." However, the Journal constitution states: "The letter to parents does not contain any information on whether other students or staff who have been exposed need to be quarantined or whether classrooms will be closed."
The letter recommends checking the children's temperature at least twice a day and looking for a list of COVID-19 symptoms. "If your child has any of these COVID-19 symptoms, the CDC and DPH recommend testing your child as soon as possible. Please also notify the school office as students who experience symptoms must remain at home and quarantined must be, "said the letter.
The school appears to be planning to reopen on Monday but could be forced to change its plans if the virus spreads. "The health and well-being of our staff and students remains a top priority. We are further adapting and improving our personal teaching protocols to make our school the safest learning environment," the letter said.
Elsewhere in Georgia, the Atlanta Public Schools decided to postpone the opening until August 24th and to issue a mask mandate. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has tried to prevent cities from imposing mask mandates.