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Two students say school suspended them for circulating photos of overcrowded school hallways amid COVID-19

Two Georgia high school students say their school suspended them after posting pictures of crowded hallways on social media.

What are the details?

The students, who attend North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, reportedly shared photos of students filling the school’s hallways on social media.

The photos, amid the COVID-19 crisis, went viral, and sparked reactions ranging from concern to outrage.

One student, 15-year-old Hannah Watters, said that her school handed down a punishment of a five-day out-of-school suspension for sharing the photos on her social media pages.

“Day two at North Paulding High School,” she captioned one of the photos. “We were stopped because it was jammed. We are close enough to the point where I got pushed multiple go to second block [sic]. This is not ok. Not to mention the 10% mask rate.”

After sharing the photos on her social media pages, Hannah said school officials pulled her into the office on Wednesday for questioning.

Officials reportedly told Hannah said that she violated the school’s student code of conduct because she reportedly used her phone in the hallway without permission, used her cell phone to update social media, and posted pictures of minors without their consent.

Buzzfeed News reports that the school district has yet to respond to requests for comment on Hannah’s alleged suspension.

‘Many people are not following CDC guidelines’

Indeed, the school’s code of conduct does state that students are not permitted to use cell phones while at the school, and cannot access social networking sites while in the building.

A second student — who wished to remain anonymous — also reportedly told the outlet that they were suspended for the same reason.

On Wednesday, the outlet reported, Principal Gabe Carmona reportedly announced that any student found “criticizing the school on social media” could face disciplinary action.

Hannah complained that her punishment was not just, and added that the school is not being safe in their COVID-19 practices.

“Many people are not following CDC guidelines because the county did not make these precautions mandatory,” she told the outlet.

She also pointed out that while she does admit that she apparently violated the school’s code of conduct, she doesn’t believe the punishment fits the crime, calling it “excessive.”

“I do understand that I violated a code of conduct policy,” she added. “[But] we have a progressive discipline system. When disciplining me and the other student, [the school] skipped level one and went straight to two.”

Hannah’s not the only one who feels this way

Hannah’s sentiment is apparently one shared by many people in the school, both students and teachers alike.

The outlet reported that students, teachers, and parents all said that they had fears surrounding the reopening of schools amid the pandemic. The school district has also reportedly not chosen to enforce mask-wearing, and instead, allows it up to the individual to make a “personal choice” on the matter.

“Despite positive reports of COVID-19 cases among students and staff,” the outlet reports, “classes have resumed and students have been told they could face expulsion if they don’t attend.”

At least one teacher reportedly resigned over safety concerns.

Using the photo without context

Earlier this week, Paulding Superintendent Brian Otott told parents that “some individuals on social media” are taking such photos and using them “without context to criticize our school reopening efforts.”

“Under the COVID-19 protocols we have adopted, class changes that look like this may happen, especially at a high school with more than 2,000 students,” his statement to parents continued.

“One area where we have received a good deal of feedback is mask use in our schools. Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them. What we will do is continue to strongly encourage all students and staff to wear masks,” he concluded.

Student suspended after showing fellow students without masks l GMA

The student recorded a video showing a packed hallway and students without masks inside a Georgia high school amid the coronavirus pandemic. Subscribe to GMA…


Student suspended after showing fellow students without masks l GMA

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