Pennsylvania school apologizes after teacher tapes mask to student's face

"The incident was isolated and no malice was intended," the school district said.
Medical masks

North Penn School District in Pennsylvania apologized after a photo surfaced Monday showing a teacher taping a mask to a student's face in class.

Community organization North Penn Stronger Together (NPST) first posted the photo, which shows the student, partially blurred to conceal his identity, sitting at a desk as a woman described as a Pennfield Middle School co-teacher tapes a mask to his face.

"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," NPST wrote on Facebook, adding a request for parents to speak at a school board meeting Thursday evening.

The school district issued a statement Wednesday. 

"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 district wrote. "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 school did not release the identity of the student nor the teacher but said: "We understand that the act of taping a mask to a student’s face is concerning to many and apologize that it occurred. The matter is serious and it is being addressed with the employee."

The photo stirred up drama locally when the organization asked counter community group North Penn Neighbors for Progress to join in addressing the photo. 

"To our detractors led by North Penn Stronger Together: The continued exploitation of any piece of negative news to reinstigate the cynical, partisan rhetoric that fueled your failed campaign is exhausting. But exploitation of a child and family on social media, in pursuit of political gain, is absolutely unacceptable," North Penn Neighbors for Progress stated on Tuesday. "Please stop demanding public comment on a matter that must be foremost dealt with internally."

The NPST responded that it is not a political organization, but "a sounding board for concerned parents." The group at one point endorsed conservative political candidates, but no longer does.

A middle school in Colorado Springs came under fire in November after a district investigation found four teachers were instructing students to tape masks to their faces, local outlet KOAA reported.