PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. - North Paulding High School officials announced the school will be closed to students on Monday and Tuesday.
The announcement comes on the heels of 9 students and staff testing positive for COVID-19.
In a letter sent to parents Saturday, principal Gabe Carmona says the school is aware of six students and three staff members who were at school last week and have since tested positive for the virus.
Then on Sunday, Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott sent parents a letter telling them North Paulding High would temporarily switch to digital learning for August 10th and 11th.
A copy of the full letter can be read below:
The positive tests come amid the fallout over photos taken by a sophomore showing packed hallways at the school during the first week of classes.
Hannah Waters, 15, posted the images on Tuesday, which quickly went viral. School administrators then suspended Waters for violating phone and social media policies.
“There was no social distancing, a 10% mask use rate, it was chaos,” she said.
“Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them,” Superintendent Brian Otott wrote to parents on Tuesday.
Friday morning, Waters says she was told her suspension had been lifted.
"It confirmed my worst fears," said Amy Westmoreland, a former Paulding County School Nurse.
Westmoreland says she was shocked to see pictures and videos of North Paulding High School. It shows crowded hallways with few masks and virtually no social distancing.
"I couldn't believe it. I mean, part of me knew that it would happen, but I had a little bit of hope that they would do the right thing," said Westmoreland.
The pictures and video lead to the suspension of two students that was eventually overturned by school officials.
"When all of the information we were getting from the board about reopening came out, and social distancing might not be possible in certain situations and that masks were a personal choice, I just could not get over that," explained Westmoreland.
Westmoreland worked as a school nurse for four years at W.C. Abney Elementary School in Paulding County. Before the school year started, she submitted her resignation letter.
"I do feel like I made the right choice. Of course, I would love to be there helping the children, but I was not able to provide them with safe care," said Westmoreland.
Westmoreland says he reason to leave was not just about her, but about the students.
As of Sunday afternoon, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports Paulding County has had 1,678 confirmed cases of the virus, 22 deaths and 123 hospitalizations due to the virus since the pandemic started.
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