In Georgia, amid the coronavirus pandemic, North Paulding High School student Hannah Watters posted a now-viral photo of students walking in the halls of her school.
Watters was suspended over taking the picture. The school said she violated three different conduct policies.
However, after the picture became viral, the New York Times reported that her suspension was lifted and expunged from her personal school record.
In that same article, the Times quoted the Superintendent for the district, Brian Otott, who wrote in a letter to the district:
"Masks are not required at the school...though the administration strongly encourages them for students and staff members.
Wearing a mask is a personal choice, and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them," he wrote, adding that more than 2,000 students attend the high school."
The state of Georgia has had over 200,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 deaths as a result of coronavirus. And what this picture very clearly depicts is a complete lack of social distancing that could actually help to prevent the spread of the virus.
In the United States, 1,000 people are dying a day from coronavirus.
At this point, it's not an expression of 'freedom' to refrain from wearing a mask, and wearing a mask isn't just a personal choice. The virus spreads from person to person contact and wearing a mask actually prevents particles from the mouth and nose to come into contact with others. So wearing a mask is actually about stopping the spread to others.
To make the decision to not wear a mask is directly putting others in harm's way as well as yourself. For someone in a position of authority like Otott, this needs to have been considered in making the decision to reopen schools. But it clearly was not and the community might suffer as a result.