The American International School of Bucharest has been shut down until May 28, 2021, as punishment for holding a Zoom class of more than 16 participants.
The police officer who arrived to the online scene, Mr. Bruno, says he was “shocked” when he entered the call, stating this was “a clear violation of COVID-19 restrictions.” The implicated students have been placed under strict quarantine and the teacher is being held for questioning.
Mr. Bruno was wearing a mask during our interview, so it was hard to understand exactly what he said, but the gist is that he was notified of the infraction based on a tip from an anonymous whistle-blower. He explains that he joined the class wearing full protective gear, when he found the teacher sharing her screen. “The students were listening, making comments, and taking notes, like everything was new-normal,” he says. “But none of them were wearing masks, which is mandatory in Ilfov county.”
Fired up about the events, Bruno continued, “All of them were blatantly flouting the rules for group meetings and risking their health. They were indoors in confined spaces; their faces were not anywhere near 1.5 meters apart, and not one person washed their hands before entering the Zoom meeting!”
According to the school’s own Covid-19 precautions, students need to wear and even bring several masks when attending the school. They all must comply with social distancing requirements, and teachers must maintain adequate airflow.
To understand exactly what went wrong, our team was able to interview some of the students that were in the class at the time. However, since they are minors, their names must remain anonymous.
One child responded, “…But we had no idea!” Another said that she was six feet away from the computer, so she thought she was social-distancing. One student also asked the valid question: “Wait, my camera was off, so I wasn’t really there, right?”
Other students claim they take extra precautions like “muting ourselves and not engaging in unnecessary class discussions to prevent transmitting the virus.”
We were also able to contact the teacher who hosted the meeting to get her view on why she was held for questioning. She said that when the officer stated that their Zoom meeting was “breaking the safety protocols,” she tried to explain that it was all online and therefore the charge was not logical. But the official would not accept that reasoning, as it was still a meeting, and then proceeded to also cite her for disturbing the peace.
This is a breaking story and our special coverage will continue as updates come in. Please remember to follow the coronavirus safety rules and stay safe.