Story at a glance

  • “When I see sights like that, it is disturbing to me,” Fauci said, referring to the images captured at North Paulding High School in Georgia.
  • The images showed students, many without masks, crammed in a school hallway.
  • Six students and three staffers at the school tested positive for COVID-19 days after the photos went viral.

The nation’s top infectious disease expert on Monday called the viral image of a crowded high school hallway in Georgia “disturbing” and said there should be a universal wearing of masks as schools attempt to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. 


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“There should be the extent possible social distancing, avoiding crowds. Outdoors [is] always better than indoors and [you should] be in a situation where you continually have the capability of washing your hands and cleaning up with sanitizers,” Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview on ABC’s “World News Tonight” Monday when asked about reopening schools. 

“When I see sights like that, it is disturbing to me,” Fauci added, referring to the images captured at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia. 

The images shared by sophomore Hannah Watters went viral last week after showing students, many without masks, in packed hallways. The Paulding County School District encouraged students and staff members to wear face coverings but did not require them. Watters was suspended briefly for violating school policies, but her suspension was eventually lifted after public outcry. 

At least six students and three faculty members tested positive for COVID-19 after the photos went viral, and the school was closed for cleaning. The school moved to online learning for Monday and Tuesday.

Published on Aug 11, 2020