The Facebook group originally said in part that whether you’re “pro” or “anti” mask, taping masks to a child’s face “crosses the LINE.” The group wrote on behalf of the child and parent, saying “this was not a joke” for them. The group later posted to pushback against its characterization as a group tied to particular political candidates, saying in part, “NPST has become a sounding board for concerned parents. It IS a place where parents can advocate who want to see accountability in the district.”
As reported by Philly Voice, an opposing group, North Penn Neighbors for Progress, said the conservative group is exploiting the situation to spur anger. Neighbors for Progress, which supports Democratic candidates for the school board, said that the “continued exploitation of any piece of negative news to reinvestigate the cynical, partisan rhetoric that fueled your failed campaign is exhausting.” The group added that it’s “absolutely unacceptable” to exploit a child on social media for “political gain.”
Notably, the mother of the child in the photo has since released a statement that was read during Thursday’s meeting, which reads in part: “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 described the situation as “like a scene from my worst nightmare.” This is certainly intriguing context, given that the group stated it had permission to post the photo.
Even still, some parents at the meeting stoked the fire, asking, for example, if there have been “any other teachers that have taped masks to kids?” The district, for its part, has maintained that the incident was singular and that the teacher is being addressed. They did not say if she is being fired or placed on leave, citing personnel matters as confidential. It also issued an apology to the student and his family.
In Pennsylvania, students and staff are required to wear masks while inside; both the teacher and student were wearing masks in the photo, though it’s unclear why she was taping the mask to his face.
(As a note, I did not include or link to the photo of the student, in an effort to not further disseminate the image.)