CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham Board of Education president, district superintendent and board members all urged residents to knock off the "shaming" on social media at its regular meeting held Monday night in the Chatham High auditorium.
BOE President Jill Critchley Weber, Superintendent Michael LaSusa and board member Ann Ciccarelli all urged people to back off on criticism of students and parents following a non-school party that prompted a spike in Coronavirus cases and sent CHS into an "all-virtual" mode.
"I know it's been super stressful for people, but I really urge everybody to think twice before they are posting on social media," Ciccarrelli said. "The social medial frenzy since this happened has been absolutely out of control. These kids have been shamed, these parents have been shamed and false statements have been made.
"It's really, really counterproductive. I fear it's going to lead to other people not reporting if they do have positive results because people are afraid of what other people in the community are saying about them. We all know the effects of social media comments, especially on these teenagers and adolescents and I think we need to be very conscious of their emotional well-being and the fact that shaming kids for having a virus, whether they made a poor decision or not, is not going to be productive for anybody. We really need to come together as a community and be kind to each other about this. This is not easy for anybody."
BOE president Weber acknowledged students who came forward to report the transmission: "We are not going to be punishing any students who reported."
Weber also urged a "We are Chatham" attitude when it comes to the pandemic in the video below.
LaSusa followed the advice of the health department on Sept. 11 and ordered Chatham High School students to switch to all-virtual instruction until Sept. 29.
The full video from the Sept. 21 BOE meeting can be viewed below.