Georgia high school that saw 9 positive COVID-19 cases to briefly move to online learning

A high school in Georgia that gained viral attention last week after photos emerged showing students, many without masks, in packed hallways says it will temporarily close after it was discovered multiple students and faculty contracted COVID-19 following its first week of classes.

Brian Otott, superintendent for the Paulding County School District, said in a letter to parents shared by WSB-TV journalist Chris Jose on Sunday that the North Paulding High School will be switching from in-person instruction to digital learning this coming Monday and Tuesday. 

Otott said in the letter that the announcement was the “result of our being informed of nine cases of COVID-19” at the high school after it resumed in-person classes last week.

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He said the district, which he added has also been in consultation with health officials, also made the decision due to the “possibility that the number could increase if there are currently pending tests that prove positive.”

The letter said parents will be notified when students will be able to return to school come late Tuesday.

In the meantime, Otott said the school will “be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.”

He also urged parents to check their children’s temperature at least twice a day and to have their children tested if they display symptoms of the disease.

The announcement comes a day after Gabe Carmona, the principal of North Paulding High School, told parents in a letter that at least six students and three staff members that “were in school for at least some time last week” tested positive for the disease. 

Prior to Saturday, the school had already garnered national headlines after photos went viral on social media showing students standing shoulder to shoulder in packed hallways. A number of the students seen in the images were also not wearing masks, despite public health guidelines urging people to wear face coverings to curb the spread of the disease.

The school gained even more notoriety after two of its students said later last week that they were suspended after sharing photos and footage of students crowded at the school, though one of the students said her suspension was eventually lifted by the school.