UPDATE: After a school suspended students for posting photos of crowded school hallways, they have closed due to new COVID-19 infections. Read through the article to get the full story, or skip to the end for the update.
Schools have faced heavy scrutiny as students return to in-person instruction this month, especially as photos of crowded schools hallways went viral on Twitter. Now at least two students from North Paulding High School in Georgia are saying they were suspended for posting some of these photos.
The photos in question show students in a crowded, indoor hallway. Students are noticeably not social distancing, and few are wearing masks. Twitter user @freeyourmindkid originally uploaded the image as well as several others to show a lack of social distancing and face coverings at the high school. The person behind the account has not identified themselves.
Viral Photos Result in Suspensions
More pictures from inside of the school pic.twitter.com/A08L9WbXIw— 🇯🇲Black🇭🇹Aziz🇳🇬aNANsi🇹🇹 (@Freeyourmindkid) August 5, 2020
The user also urged other students to share photos if their schools weren’t enforcing social distancing and masks. If they were scared to post the photos directly, the user offered to post them anonymously for them.
Another teen, 15-year-old Hannah Watters, posted one photo and one video. Watters told Buzzfeed News that she received a five-day, out-of-school suspension for it. Watters labeled the punishment as “excessive,” saying that it was her first time being reprimanded by the school.
In her post, Watters wrote, “Day two at North Paulding High School. It is just as bad. We were stopped because it was jammed. We are close enough to the point where I got pushed multiple go to second block. This is not ok. Not to mention the 10% mask rate.”
Why the Suspensions?
Watters told Buzzfeed News that she was suspended because she violated the school’s student code of conduct.
“The policies I broke stated that I used my phone in the hallway without permission, used my phone for social media, and posting pictures of minors without consent,” she explained.
Just two days after her suspension was issued, the suspension was reversed. Watters and her mother were told the suspension would be wiped from her record, and Watters could return to school next week.
Another unidentified student told Buzzfeed News that they were also suspended for sharing photos to social media. It’s unclear whether the suspension was reversed, like in Watters’ case.
According to Buzzfeed News, students were also told via intercom that they could face discipline if they criticized the school on social media.
UPDATE — August 10
In a letter sent to parents on Sunday, North Paulding High School reported nine COVID-19 cases — six students and three staff members. Now, the school is temporarily switching to offering only remote instruction.
The school’s temporary switch is in place until Tuesday night, where the school will announce whether or not the school will open back up beginning Wednesday. While the school is closed to students and staff, it will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected.