Viral Twitter photos that show students crowding a Georgia high school hallway resulted in the suspension of a student who took the photos.
The photos were taken at North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia on the first day of school this week. The school is less than 50 miles northwest of Atlanta.
The photo shows students - many not wearing face masks - crowded in a packed hallway on their first day back to class since the coronavirus pandemic.
More photos were tweeted from the same high school on Day 2 that showed even fewer students wearing face masks.
15-year-old student Hannah Watters was suspended for 5 days for posting the images on Twitter, according to her mother, Lynne Watters, who said she filed a grievance with the school Thursday morning.
"I expressed my concerns and disagreement with that punishment," Lynne Watters said in a text message to the Chicago Tribune.
In an email to Fox News, North Paulding High School principal Gabe Carmona said a few cases of Covid-19 positive students with mild, flu-like symptoms "have already been identified."
Paulding County School District, Brian Otott, defended his decision to reopen schools, saying the viral photo was "taken out of context" because the students were only in the hallway between classes.
"There is no question that the photo does not look good." Masks are not required at the school, Otott said, although the administration strongly encourages masks for students and staff members.
Otott said mask wearing is not mandated at North Paulding High School.
"Wearing a mask is a personal choice," he wrote, "and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them."
Scott Sweeney, Georgia Board of Education Chairman told Fox News, "Mask wearing is not something that we can mandate... from the state board of education standpoint."
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp refused to mandate face masks in the state, preferring to leave the decision to local communities.
Recent studies published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) concludes face masks - which were designed to stop bacteria - are not effective against viruses such as the coronavirus, which is 100 to 1000 times smaller than bacteria.
"We know that wearing a mask outside health care facilities offers little, if any, protection from infection," the article said.
The New England Journal of Medicine noted "the truth about mass mask wearing, and that the main if not only benefit of masks is that it eases anxiety of some people.”
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