The Paulding County high school that became infamous for hallways crowded with unmasked students reported a half dozen students and three staffers in the school with COVID-19, the school district told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Saturday.
“At this time, we know there were six students and three staff members who were in school for at least some time last week who have since reported to us that they have tested positive,” says a letter from North Paulding High School Principal Gabe Carmona to parents Saturday. A spokesman for the Paulding County School District gave a copy of the letter to the AJC.
North Paulding High and its school district, which began the school year Monday, made national news this week after images of the crowded hallways went viral after being posted to social media.
The school district suspended two students, including one who publicly acknowledged posting one of the photos. The punishment led to a national outcry from critics who said school leaders were trying to silence the students. After the pushback, the district relented and lifted the suspensions on Friday.
The letter to parents does not include information on whether any other students or staff who were exposed have to quarantine or whether any classrooms will be closed. “Our custodial staff continues to thoroughly clean and disinfect the school building daily, and especially affected areas,” the letter says.
Angie Franks said both her nephews who attend the school have tested positive for COVID-19. One came home from school Monday unable to smell, she said in an interview with the AJC. His mother took him for testing where rapid results showed him positive, Franks said. By then, his brother was exhibiting symptoms and was also tested. His positive results were returned Wednesday.
The students are quarantining at home, but both went to school Monday. Franks said the boys’ father notified the school on Tuesday and Wednesday after getting their test results.
“They sat in class all day long with no masks and not social distancing,” Franks said. “And I have no idea how many kids they came into contact with.” She said the boys didn’t grasp the gravity of the virus and weren’t encouraged to wear masks in classrooms or hallways by the school. Paulding County school system is not mandating masks for students and staff, though it is supplying them for teachers.
Channel 2 Action News reported there have been 53 cases of COVID-19, including 23 students reported in Paulding County schools since July 1.