CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. (CBS46) -- Back to school photos that circulating on social media from several metro Atlanta counties are facing negative attention.

Health experts say school re-openings must include effective COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, face coverings and social distancing to maximize safety. But, some Georgia students who have returned to class are not following those measures.

A photo posted on Sequoyah High School's Instagram page shows dozens of students huddled together for a back to school picture. After on-line criticism, the photo was deleted from the account.

A similar picture of students outside of Etowah High School in Woodstock shows teens bunched together on a school sidewalk with no face coverings in sight. 

There is also a photo from a Paulding County school of students crammed into a hall way with only a few of them wearing masks.

"That is concerning and this is probably my biggest worry is the behavioral aspect," said Dr. Marybeth Sexton, of the Serious Communicable Disease Unit at Emory University Hospital. 

Sexton says that while there is speculation and a recent study that suggests younger kids may have a lower transmission rate, that does not mean it will not happen. She adds that high school students are a different group.

"With older kids and teenagers, it really does appear that they can be just as contagious and likely to transmit," said Sexton. "And there's been good examples of that the summer camp that was right here in Georgia where 3/4 of kids and staff all tested positive after working, playing and living in close quarters."

Sexton admits high school students are at an age where compliance can be an issue.

"It may be that there has to be some insistence," said Sexton. "This is hard because teachers are already policing a number of things while they try to teach but there probably needs to be a sense of, you're not coming into my class if you do not have a mask on because that's what's safe for you, that's what's safe for your classmates and what helps protect the teacher."

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