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'There's no system in place': Georgia aunt frustrated with school after nephews contract COVID

Angie Franks said her nephews are doing better now. But she worries the school system still doesn't have a plan for preventing further infections.

PAULDING COUNTY, Ga. — Just one week after going back into the classrooms, North Paulding High School is switching to virtual learning – temporarily – after a viral photo of crowded classrooms and, now, nine new cases of COVID tied to the school.

A relative of two of those new cases has since decided to speak out.

Angie Franks said two of her nephews, one in tenth grade and another in ninth grade, are students and tested positive after going to school on Monday. She said this is exactly what her family feared would happen.

After the first week of in-person learning at North Paulding, the school confirmed in a letter to families that it had nine positive COVID cases – six students and three staff members.

Franks said both of her nephews started feeling sick on Monday night.

“They've both been home all week and they're feeling much better,” she said. “However, who knows who they infected when they were at school all day long Monday with no masks.”

The district announced on Sunday that the school will go virtual on Monday and Tuesday so that the building can be thoroughly cleaned. But Franks said there needs to be more of a plan.

“There's no system in place,” she said. “How are they going to do it? You're cleaning the school for two days but you're not cleaning the children. They're still carrying the virus.”

Student Hannah Watters, who first tweeted the now-viral photo of a crowded North Paulding High School hallway, agrees.

It brought national attention to Paulding County and the school suspended her, and another student, for taking and posting the images. They then lifted the suspension.

“If they had delayed school like other counties are doing, they could've had this time to think it through to make a plan that could've lasted a lot longer than this one,” she said. “So, we could've not been just shoved into the school as guinea pigs.”

Watters said she wants to go back but she's a bit nervous about returning to the classroom.

“I've gotten backlash from a lot of students and other people in the county,” she said. “It's getting a bit more nerve-racking to go back.”

Franks said she feels the same as Watters.

“Honestly, I would wish that they'd go virtual,” she said.

The superintendent said in his letter that parents will be notified, on Tuesday night, exactly when in-person learning can resume.

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