Six students and three staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus at North Paulding High School after photos of crowded hallways with maskless students at the Georgia school went viral.

Principal Gabe Carmona confirmed the positive COVID-19 cases in a letter sent to parents Saturday that was first reported on by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and ABC News.

"The health and wellbeing of our staff and students remains our highest priority, and we are continuing to adjust and improve our protocols for in-person instruction to make our school the safest possible learning environment," Carmona wrote.

"We have anticipated that COVID-19 would impact us as it has nearly every community, and the district has worked in partnership with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to proactively implement safety precautions and response plans," the letter said.

The students and staff who tested positive were in school "for at least some time last week" when the photos of crowded hallways went viral, the letter stated. Carmona said the affected students and staff reported their test results to school officials.

"In each case we are following DPH recommendations for reporting. Our custodial staff continues to thoroughly clean and disinfect the school building daily, and especially affected areas," Carmona wrote. "It is my intention to regularly notify the NPHS community of these cases in the interest of transparency and so that we, as a community, can be aware of any trends that arise and respond accordingly."

The letter did not include additional information about the cases or guidance on whether students or staff members who may have been exposed should quarantine.

Carmona and representatives for the school district did not immediately respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment Sunday.

The district initially suspended two students for posting the images that went viral but reversed the suspensions on Friday following backlash.


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