A Georgia high school has temporarily switched to online learning after several students and staff tested positive for coronavirus, news that came on the heels of a viral photo showing students packed in a hallway during the school’s return to in-person instruction last week.
North Paulding High School in Dallas, about 32 miles west of Atlanta, announced the decision in a letter to parents on Sunday, just one week after students started the new school year, FOX 5 Atlanta reported.
Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott wrote the school would hold remote classes Monday and Tuesday after parents were alerted that at least six students and three staff members had tested positive for COVID-19.
The school would be “thoroughly cleaned and disinfected” over the two days, Otott said. Parents and students will be notified whether remote learning would be extended on Tuesday evening.
The school’s mask-optional policy along with a photo of students walking through a crowded hallway posted online last week have raised questions about how to make the return to classrooms safe.
Paulding County and nearby Cherokee County were two of the first school districts in the country to reopen and resume full-five-day-a-week instruction last week. While both districts gave options for online learning, only 30 percent of students in Paulding and 22 percent in Cherokee chose to, The Associated Press reported.
Other school districts in the state are having students begin the year with remote learning.
Cobb County Schools said it will continue with its plan for online-only classes when the academic year begins on Aug. 17 after the Georgia Department of Health alerted it to about the 100 potential coronavirus cases among students and staff, WSB-TV reported.
Those who test positive will be asked to quarantine for 10 days, and the state will follow contact tracing procedures. The district is not releasing information about each case to protect the individual’s privacy.
The decision to go online-only for all 113,000 students in Cobb County has been met with backlash from parents who have protested to demand an in-person learning option.
Georgia saw an additional 3,177 confirmed coronavirus cases, 13 deaths, and 72 hospitalizations on Sunday. The state totals stand at 216,596 confirmed cases, 4,199 deaths, and 20,628 hospitalizations.