To no one's surprise, going back to school in person is already not going well.
A few of Georgia’s public schools went back to in-person schooling on Monday with no mask requirement, and things are going as well as we all expected.
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. pic.twitter.com/JKbGYqG9RS— hannah (@ihateiceman) August 4, 2020
Photos taken by students and posted to social media showed students packed shoulder to shoulder in the hallway, most of them unmasked. Two districts reopened this week, and so far, two students—one from each—have tested positive for the coronavirus. This all comes after Georgia met a new weekly high for COVID-19 deaths earlier this week, passing 200,000 cases on Wednesday, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The Paulding County—one of the districts that reopened this week—Superintendent Brian Ottot said that the students “need longer than a few minutes in the hall to catch the virus from others,” according to USA Today. He later continued to defend the district’s decision not to require that students wear masks: “Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.”
However, women on the internet who have been dress-coded and sent home for having “distracting” shoulders strongly disagree.
the idea that schools can’t enforce mask use by older students is truly laughable to the tens of thousands of girls who’ve been sent home or given detention for visible bra straps or myriad other nonsense dress code violations pic.twitter.com/rIBWUh5GrS— Kay Taylor Rea (@kaytaylorrea) August 5, 2020
Schools: We CANNOT mandate masks. It's too difficult to enforce.— Liddle Jessica Savage ??♀ (@losingminddaily) August 6, 2020
Also schools: NO SPAGHETTI STRAPS, SHORTS, MIDRIFF SHIRTS, TANK TOPS, JEANS WITH HOLES, SKIRTS TOO SHORT, LOCS, BRAIDS, NATURAL HAIR ...OR WE'LL SEND YOU HOME AND EMBARRASS YOU UNTIL TOU COMPLY WITH THE DRESS CODE
Some even posted the district’s lengthy dress code, which they most likely have no issue enforcing.
Georgia's Paulding County Schools Superintendent Brian Otott told the Washington Post that "wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them." Here's their school district's dress code. https://t.co/1cXrHFawfU pic.twitter.com/qMXe2ySGfsAugust 5, 2020
The only good part of all this is that the student who posted the photo and was suspended for it, Hannah Watters, does not regret posting it, calling it “good and necessary trouble. My biggest concern is not only about me being safe, it's about everyone being safe because behind every teacher, student and staff member there is a family, there are friends, and I would just want to keep everyone safe," she said to CNN.
Watters also made a post documenting how many of her peers are wearing masks in class. In most cases, less than a third of students were wearing masks in-class.
Header image by Aaron Mello from Pexels
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Evi Arthur is a graduate of Roosevelt University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies and a minor in women’s and gender studies. The former editor-in-chief of her university paper, Evi has previously interned at Chicago Agent Magazine and St. Louis Magazine. A St. Louis native (and lover of St. Louis-style pizza), she plans to eventually return to school and earn a Master's degree in investigative reporting. You can follow her at @EviArthur on Instagram and Twitter.