A middle school teacher in Pennsylvania was caught in a now-viral photograph taping a mask to a student’s face, drawing an apology from the school district after community outrage.
HATFIELD, PA – The incident occurred at Pennfield Middle School in Hatfield – a school located just outside of Philadelphia – and was caught on a student’s cell phone camera, with the photo later appearing on Facebook on Monday, having been shared by a group called “North Penn Stronger Together.”
“Pro-mask or anti-mask, I hope we can all agree that taping masks to children’s faces crosses the LINE. This was not a joke for the child or the parents,” the post read. “I am calling on the North Penn Neighbors for Progress and North Penn School District to address this photo of a Pennfield Middle school co-teacher taping a mask to a child’s face to district parents and families ASAP.”
“We ask for respect for this student and his family,” the post concluded, after encouraging community members to email the school district and attend a Thursday school board meeting to voice their disapproval.
The Facebook post so far has received over 500 comments, nearly all of them expressing outrage and calling for the teacher to lose her job.
The North Penn School District issued a statement on Wednesday, apologizing for the actions of the teacher – calling them “unacceptable” – and noting that the incident is “being addressed.”
“An image taken in one of our classrooms last week and circulating on social media does not represent the universal values that the North Penn School District strives to instill in both our students and staff,” the statement read. “After an immediate investigation, it was determined that while the incident was isolated and no malice was intended, the actions of the teacher were entirely inappropriate and unacceptable, no matter the context.”
It is currently unknown if the teacher will face any disciplinary action, but the student’s mother – who wishes to remain anonymous – issued a statement on Thursday, saying that “how this [situation] has evolved is exactly what I wanted to avoid” after she claimed the viral photo of her son was shared without permission, garnering her family unwanted publicity.
“What has since transpired is like a scene from my worst nightmare. Certain individuals felt compelled to take matters into their own hands, including contacting local authorities and disseminating this image of my son to various media outlets,” she said. “As a result, the picture of my son and the story have been shared with various news organizations. At no point did I give permission for the image to be shared publicly, including with any news organizations.”
“While I appreciate parents and groups alike coming to our defense, what this has evolved into is exactly what I wanted to avoid,” she continued. “Now, in addition to having to deal with the aftershock of this from the local community and, for my son, his friends and classmates, we are in fear that our identity will be leaked and we will find a host of parents and news cameras on my front step.”