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It has been almost one year since the country was placed into lockdown due to the spread of COVID-19. With social distancing rules set in place and masks being required around people’s faces, people are still struggling to adapt to a new normal, and online learning is no exception. However, the Zoom meeting event that had taken place yesterday was a rather immature way to handle the subject and has caused the entire Oakly Union Elementary School District in California to resign. Here is the story:

The Oakly Union Elementary School has been ambivalent about fully sending their kids back to in-person learning. Therefore, the school board had scheduled a Zoom meeting to discuss with parents the pros and cons of bringing their kids back to school. However, during the meeting preparations, the Superintendant Greg Hetrick was caught deriding parents who had criticized the ongoing school closures. His trustees Kim Beede, Erica Ippolito, and Richie Masadas also joined in the berating, little did they know that the Zoom meeting was broadcasting publicly, so everybody in America could hear it.

Comments recorded from the Zoom meeting include “It’s unfortunate they want to pick on us because they want their babysitters back”, and “I just want these kids out of the way so we can smoke our pot again” and even “B*tch, if you call me out, I will f*ck you up”. However, when it turned out that the meeting was not set to “private”, some school board members were horrified due to their countenance, while others were more straight-forward about it such as Masadas who said, “Its easy to hide behind a screen, but when your’e face-to-face with students, its a whole different ball game”. Nonetheless, the series of insults at the Zoom meeting had given the Oakly Union Elementary School a poor reputation while causing the entire faculty to resign the next day.

“We deeply regret the earlier comments that were made in the meeting of the Board of Education earlier this week”, says Hetrick. “As trustees, we realize it is our responsibility to model the conduct we expect of our students and staff, and it is our obligation to build confidence in District leadership; our comments failed you in both regards, and our deepest apologies”.

The Oakly Union School District, amid these troubling times, has still decided not to shut down and that an entire new school board will be put in place. However, this gaffe reminds us that anything we say online can be shared everywhere and be heard by everyone. So, the next time you are at a Zoom meeting, think before you speak (and check your settings!)

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