Students in Georgia, who returned to class this week, posted photos and videos showing their classmates in close contact without masks, which have gone viral on social media.
Some have been punished for posting the photographs.
After one picture depicting a crowded hallway at North Paulding High School spread online, the principal warned students they could be punished for posting anything that depicts the school in a negative light, according to a CBS46 report.
A Q&A form put out by the Paulding School District said masks are recommended, but not required.
“The school district recognizes that wearing a face mask is a personal choice for families and, therefore, will not mandate that masks be worn,” the form says. “However, the school district does strongly encourage that all students and staff wear masks. Should the wearing of masks be mandated by local, state or federal requirement, the school district will follow that direction.”
Paulding County School District did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
One student told Buzzfeed News that she was suspended after posting multiple videos and pictures of crowded hallways.
“Not only did they open, but they have not been safe,” the student told Buzzfeed. “Many people are not following CDC guidelines because the county did not make these precautions mandatory.”
The Associated Press reported that Paulding County Superintendent Brian Otott wrote in an email that class changes are an area “we are continuing to work on in this new environment to find practicable ways to further limit students from congregating.”
According to a survey of parents, 71% of students in Paulding school district opted to return to school.
For families who didn’t want to send their kids to school, the county offered a virtual learning option, but the window to sign up for it closed on July 13th. Kids who missed the deadline have to attend school in person while their names are put on a waitlist.
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported this week that 260 employees at Gwinnett County School District, the largest in the state, either tested positive for coronavirus or were excluded from work because they were in contact with someone who was. Gwinnett County schools will start the year virtually next week.
There have been 204,895 confirmed cases and 2,026 death from coronavirus in Georgia, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.