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High School From Viral Maskless Photo Scandal Closes After 9 People Get COVID-19

The school will switch to remote instruction until at least Wednesday morning after an outbreak at the school.

North Paulding High School via ChrisJoseWSB /twitter; ihateiceman/twitter

Last week, North Paulding High School in Paulding County, Georgia, became a part of the national news cycle after a student posted several photos of the school upon its reopening to students for the 2020-2021 school year. The photos showed dozens of students without masks in overcrowded hallways, shoulder to shoulder. The photos went viral, and the 15-year-old who posted the pictures was promptly suspended.

After her suspension hit the national news, the school administrators at North Paulding reversed the decision to discipline her. Well, now the saga has another twist: apparently, the school has had to close for at least two days because nine people have been confirmed to have COVID-19 since the school opened a week ago. 

In the reporting in the aftermath of the viral photos, several reports suggested that there was already an outbreak at the school, with at least one teacher already out. The school had declined to confirm or deny that there were cases at the school, and students and teachers interviewed by Buzzfeed suggested that they were threatened with expulsion if they did not come to school, regardless of the rumored positive cases. Now, six students and three teachers have been confirmed to have fallen ill with the deadly virus. 

As a result, or perhaps due to the national scrutiny, the school announced it would be closed and conducting remote instruction only for at least two days as the school awaits test results for students and faculty who have been confirmed to have come in contact with those who are already ill. The school will be deep-cleaned and the school readily suggests that the building may be closed longer than the next two days, depending on the extent of the outbreak.