A viral photo showing students crammed in a Georgia high school hallways and very few wearing face masks caused an outrage on social media. However, the student who posted the picture of the mayhem on Internet has been suspended.
The sophomore student Hannah Watters of North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, saw a photo of packed halls on the first day of school go viral. She later saw not much had changed after that and hence felt the need to share what it looked like inside the school, according to a report in the CNN.
Watters clicked a picture of the scene and posted it to social media.
"I was concerned for the safety of everyone in that building and everyone in the county because precautions that the CDC and guidelines that the CDC has been telling us for months now, weren't being followed," Watters was quoted as saying.
Schools in the USA have reopened for the new academic sessions even as the threat of the pandemic looms large and cases continue to spike. While many have responded to the resurgence of cases with completely remote schooling, others have opted to return to the classroom -- which the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said works if safety measures are the priority.
According to Paulding County Schools superintendent Dr Brian Otott, the viral social media photo did not "look good" but ensured that the school was following appropriate COVID-19 protocols.
"Some individuals on social media are taking this photo and using it without context to criticize our school reopening efforts,” Otott told WSB-TV Atlanta. "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."
In a letter to the community, Otott said the photo was taken out of context and wrote: "Class changes at the high school level are a challenge when maintaining a specific schedule. It is an area we are continuing to work on in this new environment to find practicable ways to further limit students from congregating. Students are in this hallway environment for just a brief period as they move to their next class. ... There is no question that the photo does not look good. ... Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them."
However, Watters contested the claim and said the time to move from one class to another only lasts about five minutes, but students from all classes are often speed walking from one end of campus to the other.
Watters alleged she was suspended over the photo and the school accused her of violating three conduct policies: using her phone during instruction time, using her phone during school hours for social media and filming students and posting on a social media platform.
However, she has clarified that she posted the photo after the school hours and also the students from class 9 to 12 are exempt from the phone ban.