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School Apologizes After Viral Photo Of Teacher Taping Mask To Student's Face Outrages Parents

Photo: Facebook
teacher taping mask to male students mouth

A middle school in Pennsylvania is apologizing after a photo of a teacher taping a mask over a student's face sparked outrage among parents.

The photograph was taken at Pennfield Middle School in Hatfield, and was posted earlier this week on a Facebook page for "North Penn Stronger Together."

The page is the name for a slate of Republican candidates who lost an election to the school board in November.

"Pro-mask or anti-mask, I hope we can all agree that taping masks to children's faces crosses the LINE. It was not a joke for the child or the parents," the post read.

The picture showed a woman, who works as a teacher at the middle school, putting tape on the top and side of a student's mask in the classroom.

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The photo immediately sparked outrage among parents and subsequently went viral, appearing on Fox News host Sean Hannity's website, and also shared on Twitter by the former candidate for Florida's 3rd Congressional District, Chuck Callesto. 

A Pennsylvannia school district apologized after the photo of the teacher taping the mask went viral.

The North Penn school district issued a statement, clarifying that they have conducted an investigation, and that the image doesn't reflect the district's values.

"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."

"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," the statement added.

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The district continued, saying that the matter is being addressed with the teacher shown in the photograph, but did not share any details on if they've placed the employee on leave, or terminated her position altogether.

"All personnel and student matters are confidential and no further information can be provided," the statement concluded.

However, many parents expressed their outrage during a school board meeting, demanding action against the teacher.

"First and foremost I’d like to extend an apology on behalf of the district and the board of school directors to the student who was involved and to his family,” North Penn School Board President Tina Stoll said at the meeting.

“I want to know — have there been any other teachers that have taped masks to kids?” one parent asked at the meeting.

“I think as parents and taxpayers we deserve to know how the situation is being handled because as of now, we’ve heard the teacher — who is a special education teacher — is not arrested for child abuse nor fired,” another parent ranted.

In December 2021, a state-wide mask mandate for 1.7 million students in Pennsylvania was thrown out by the state Supreme Court, leading some schools to implement mask-wearing as optional.

The mother of the student who was shown in the picture told North Penn Now that her intention was never to make her son go viral.

She had only agreed to share the photo with the Facebook group in order to gain support prior to the school's board meeting.

"What has since transpired is like a scene from my worst nightmare," the mother said.

"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." 

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Brooklyn. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.