You may have heard about the high school student who posted a photo of a crowded hallway of unmasked students in North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia.
This photo, posted to Instagram, earned her a suspension.
Later that suspension was lifted when administrators realized that suspending a student for expressing concerns for the safety and well being of herself and her classmates is the kind of thing that an evil school administrator would do in the movies.
It’s a good way to evaluate all of the decisions in your life:
If my life were a movie, would I be the hero or the villain right now?
It’s something I ask my students from time to time to help them find perspective on their behavior.
The Superintendent also sent a message to the district explaining the photo.
It did not go well.
After blaming the news media and “some individuals on social media” for using this photo without context to criticize the district’s reopening efforts, Superintendent Dr. Otott explained that this photo represents absolute adherence to Georgia’s Department of Education Path to Recovery plan, which states that schools should limit congregation in the halls “to the extent practical.”
In other words, this hallway may kill you, but honestly, this was the the best we could do. We honestly had no other ideas.
According the Georgia Department of Health, this crowded hallway is also within the guidelines that state that COVID-19 exposure occurs “after being within 6 feet of a sick person with COVID-19 for fifteen minutes.”
Not quite. The CDC recommends that a person self-quarantine if they have been within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for more than 15 minutes. It does not state that these conditions are safe. In fact, it explicitly advises that Americans maintain social distancing, avoid large crowds, and wear a mask when social distancing isn’t possible.
NONE OF THOSE THINGS ARE HAPPENING HERE.
Otott goes on to say that he anticipated the possibility of necessary adjustments in the coming weeks.
In other words, we might kill a few teachers and students before we get this right, but we’ll eventually get this right. We’ve had almost seven months to get our act together, but we simply couldn’t figure out a way to stagger classes in order to avoid conditions like this. It was too hard for our brains.
Otott goes on to cite the number of schools and students in the district as an excuse for this crowding in the hallways, explaining that their plans was to throw these kids and teachers into this petri dish on Monday and Tuesday, then send everyone home for distance learning for the rest of the week while they re-assess the situation.
Thankfully the coronavirus usually takes Monday and Tuesday off.
He also indicates that he’s received good feedback on mask wearing in the schools, even though this photo shows that many students are not wearing masks. More unmasked students than masked students, in fact. Otott claims that mask wearing is a personal choice and there is “no practical way to enforce a mandate on masks.”
Does his administration mandate the wearing of shoes in school? Can a student really come to school barefoot? If they can send home a student who isn’t wearing socks and shoes, then they have then capacity to enforce, too, especially when NOT DOING SO KILLS PEOPLE.
If a school administration can’t enforce a dress code, that administration needs to resign immediately.
Otott closes by saying that it’s unfortunate that in the age of social media, photos like this can circulate without context.
What context is missing?
The kids were passing from class to class, shoulder to shoulder, and not wearing masks. That’s what the photo shows, and nothing that Otott wrote changes that view.
Now for the surprise:
The school’s principal notified parents last Saturday that six students and three staff members had tested positive for the virus, and learning has shifted entirely online for the time being.
Sorry, I guess it wasn’t much of a surprise. Huh?
A student took a photo of a crowded hallway, so administration suspended her. Then they unsuspended her because suspending her made them look like idiot, defensive jerk-faces.
Then the superintendent wrote a letter to parents trying to provide context to the photo. It amounted to a misreading of the CDC guidelines and the throwing up of hands up when it comes to enforcing a mask mandates.
Then some teachers and students got sick. Probably many more who have yet to be tested.
Well done, Dr. Otott.
Based upon these credentials, you’d have a bright future at the White House.
At least until November.