Teacher on Administrative Leave After Recording of Her Lecturing Class on COVID Leaks

A high school teacher in Puyallup, Washington, was placed on paid administrative leave last week after a student-made recording was shared on a local show of her having a contentious discussion with students about COVID-19 vaccines and wearing masks.

"[I]f you don't get the vaccine and you get sick, you can make a variant that will literally kill everybody on the planet," the teacher can be heard telling students on the recording made on September 27.

The audio of the video recording was later played on the The Jason Rantz Show radio program on the station KTTH and posted on the show's YouTube channel.

mask classroom
A teacher is on paid leave after a recording was shared on a radio show of her telling students that not getting vaccinated could kill others. Above, an undated stock photo shows face masks on a desk in a school classroom. Getty

The biology teacher was recorded by a 10-grade student at Puyallup High School who discussed the incident on the conservative radio host Rantz's show. Identifying himself only as Tanner, the student said the teacher initially began by chastising some students for not wearing their face masks properly.

The teacher became increasingly more severe with her language during the talk, stating that "one of her friend's friends died from COVID and 'if he had the vaccine, then he would have lived,'" Tanner told Rantz. The student told Rantz that he then said, "That's not true" to the teacher and began recording.

"You see, you have a choice not to get vaccines, but you are not allowed to come to public school," the teacher can be heard saying on the video, which records only the floor and not the teacher's face. "Listen up. If you want to go to public school.…"

"My body, my choice," an interrupting student said.

"Yeah? Don't come here," the teacher responded.

Another student said that while she is vaccinated, she felt making others vaccinate against their will is wrong. The teacher disagreed with the stance.

"You want to know why it's not your choice? Because you could create the variant that could kill millions of people.… It's very likely," the teacher said. "Do you know how many different variations come from a person who isn't vaccinated? And then it's passed and passed and passed, and it can make thousands and thousands of people sick. It is so selfish of people not to get the vaccine. You are killing people."

Tanner recorded other videos of the discussion, one of which includes him asking the teacher if he had to get the vaccine because she had done so.

"So, if you don't get the vaccine and you get sick, you can make a variant that will literally kill everybody on the planet," the teacher said.

Tanner's mother, Tanya, also appeared on Rantz's show. She told the host that she complained to the school about the incident, which she called "bullying" and "shaming." She claimed the school's assistant principal "refused to even engage in a conversation" about the incident when speaking with Tanya.

Tanya said the assistant principal told her the school was opening an investigation into the matter, and Tanya said she told the woman that Tanner made a recording that could be used as a witness statement.

Instead of reviewing the video, Tanya said the assistant principal demanded the video be deleted because it was recorded without permission.

Sarah Gillispie, executive director of communications and public engagement at Puyallup School District, told Newsweek "the school began gathering information" on the day the incident occurred.

"The teacher used personal leave on Tuesday and Wednesday. When the district became aware of this on Wednesday, an official investigation was launched and the teacher was placed on paid administrative leave," the spokesperson added.

The school also made "no deliberate attempt to destroy evidence" as had been suggested on Rantz's show by Tanya, according to Gillispie. Rather, the assistant principal "asked the parent to delete the video...simply because it was an inappropriate use of technology during class time that was recorded without permission."

"The request could have been handled differently, but it was made in an effort to minimize student disruption," Gillispie said.