Yesterday the Baltimore Sun/HoCo Times released an editorial addressing the school system's handling of the mold issue at Glenwood Middle School. Read it. Entitled, "Howard school district wrong to keep mold investigation under wraps", it concludes:
The picture that emerges is of a school district that wished to keep the mold issue under wraps until it had found a way to put a lid on the problem. This not only raised risks, it was foolish at a time when a scrap of information can go viral on social media. It is not as if Howard County is a community backward in the ways of digital interconnectedness.
The school district is on the case. Two cheers. But a vestige of distrust now remains. The school district should take a lesson and move transparency, and enhanced communications, to the front of the class.
I'm glad the paper took this issue seriously enough to address in an editorial. This is certainly a public health issue that we can all agree on: schools should not be making people sick. But it strikes me as odd that such a big focus is put on how it was foolish to withhold the truth because social media makes a resulting scandal so easy these days. "They should have known better."
The school system has been spending an increasing amount of money on public relations capabilities. It has invested quite a bit of time and energy in controlling the message through "digital interconnectedness." What is missing from their approach, at least from this situation, is not a lack of savvy-ness.
It does not matter whether it's old school or new wave, really. The school system should be engaging with the public in an open, forthright way not because the world of social media makes it easier to get caught, but because it is the right thing to do.