A Georgia school has temporarily closed due to the coronavirus, just one week after it opened.  Last week a photo showing how crowded the high school hallway went viral.  And now 9 students and staff members have tested positive for the virus.  

This is very concerning to me, both as a physician and as a Dad.  To hear that students at North Paulding High School in Dallas didn’t sit at socially distance desks and that masks are a personal choice is very disconcerting. The school closed for two days for a thorough cleaning and students are receiving online learning during this time.   But it’s possible that this might continue longer.  Families will be informed Tuesday night if classes will resume again on Wednesday or if online learning will continue.

With that photo showing how crowded the hallways were, do you think that more cases will arise in the coming weeks?

I was very surprised when I saw that photo with kids jampacked together in the hallway.  And how few were actually wearing masks.  Now the CDC does say that many cases are spread when you spend 15 minutes with an infected person that is physically close to you.  But that number is not set in stone.  You can catch the virus if an infected person coughs on or near you regardless of the time you spent with them.  As for more cases, yes the numbers could rise.  So far, six students and three staff members have tested positive.  And anyone who came into close contact with these people is at risk of getting infected.

North Paulding is not the only school to have cases, what can you tell us about some of the other Georgia schools? 

Yes, a second-grader in one Georgia school tested positive, and the entire class plus the teacher had to be quarantined as a precaution.  Also, in Cherokee County in Georgia, at least 11 students and two staff members have tested positive in several schools.  250 students and staff were potentially exposed and they are now in quarantine.

Do you think the same will happen here in Michigan?  I know many parents are still trying to decide what to do…

I know how tough it is as a parent to decide between online learning or in-school instruction.  I have 4 kids and 3 of them are in school.  My wife and I are still undecided at this point.  And that’s because the information keeps changing.  Plus I’m very concerned about close family members, one, in particular, would not survive a COVID infection.  But when you compare Georgia to Michigan, the main difference is that face masks are not mandatory in Georgia.  It’s just encouraged. Whereas here in Michigan, we have an executive order in place.  Masks are required for students – what locations they have to wear them in school are based on their age.  But all school staff members and kids in grades 6 through 12 are required to wear facial coverings in classrooms, during school transportation, and in the hallways.  So this will really help with slowing down the spread of the virus.