can I comment on personal appointments on people’s calendars, bringing a kid with mono to work, and more

It’s four answers to four questions. Here we go…

1. Can I comment on personal appointments on people’s work calendars?

Something I’ve wondered about for a while: sometimes I see calendar events on my supervisor’s calendar that are non-work-related, but also not marked as private (so name and location are visible). Is it acceptable to ever say something to my supervisor like, “How was that restaurant you went to over the weekend? I’ve always wanted to try it out.” Or should I keep quiet about things like that?

I’d err on the side of not commenting.

When people use their work calendars to track non-work engagements too (which a lot of people do because it’s easier to have everything in one place), there’s generally a polite fiction in place that colleagues won’t comment on personal appointments.

2. My coworker wanted to bring her kid with strep and mono to work

We recently had a kerfuffle at work with Bring Your Kid To Work Day. Our coworker, Karen, posted on our slack channel Tuesday that her child had strep AND mono, but she was going to bring the child to our office on Thursday anyway. I replied and said that is a bad idea and you need to consider coworkers who might have undisclosed medical conditions. I am a level above Karen, although she does not report to me. It is even worse because the event has an FAQ that specifically says not to bring sick children, and they have a virtual event parents can do from home instead.

Today I got a call from my supervisor chastising me for “not respecting” Karen because I told her not to bring her ill child to the office. He also said it was a HIPAA violation. (We do not work in health care.) Another coworker had told Karen that they had serious health conditions and getting mono for them would be very, very severe. So I told my boss that we had a higher obligation to the employee than to a child who has no relationship to our company. One person is required to be here (we have a return to office mandate) and the other one does not. Also, if the coworker with the illness has not officially requested an accomodation, this isn’t a textbook ADA violation, but would they have any standing to say they made a reasonable request and we put them at risk anyway?

End story, the ill child will still be coming into the office and her parent has no plans to disclose that she has mono to the other 450 children in attendance. I am on thin ice with my boss for daring to tell this coworker it was a bad idea. And the entire team is angry with her for her lack of judgement.

Are there ADA considerations here? What would have been a better way for my boss to navigate this conflict? Even if there isn’t an ADA mandate, don’t we have a responsibility not to willfully expose workers to contagious viruses? Have we learned nothing from Covid?

Nothing here is a HIPAA violation (HIPAA only applies to health care workers and a few other very narrowly defined categories) but your manager’s actions are a serious violation of common sense.

Whether there’s an ADA issue in play would depend on details I don’t have, like whether your coworker’s condition is covered by the ADA and whether they had asked not to be exposed to the child (or to people with mono or strep in general). They wouldn’t have to have made a formal request for accommodation under the ADA; employers are required to comply with the ADA even if the employee doesn’t specifically cite the law in making a request.

But I don’t think the ADA is the most fruitful way to tackle this regardless — because even without that coworker with the serious condition, bringing a child with strep and mono into your office is so clearly a terrible idea for everyone (including all the other kids who would be there that day too). Ideally you would have skipped over your manager once it became clear he was making such a ridiculous call and gone to HR and/or whoever was organizing the event, to point out that Karen had announced she planned violate the event’s clearly stated health policy.

And yes, you’re correct, we’ve learned nothing from Covid.

3. We’re required to be back in the office but the workspace is terrible

Two months ago, our multinational company’s CEO sent out an email saying employees whose jobs are categorized as hybrid are all expected to be in the office four days a week. This was in the middle of a layoff announcement, so the pushback was minimal.

I honestly don’t mind going into the office, but our 20-person team is still hybrid. More than half the team work remotely, either because of their job categories or because they are in different cities. All of our meetings are Zoom and we have no hybrid meeting rooms. This means that those of us in the office are all signing on to the same team meetings from our desks on Zoom. Or that people in our shared workspace are talking on Zoom meetings while others are trying to work. It is loud and distracting! I find this physically stressful and it affects my productivity and mood.

I don’t understand why we have to come into the office if we are still primarily communicating on Slack and Zoom. Everyone agrees it’s a problem but I’m the only one who keeps bringing it up in meetings with management, saying we need Zoom rooms. The response is that we don’t have enough space for all of our employees and that I should get noise-canceling headphones. Isn’t the whole point of the mandate that we are supposed to be collaborating more? I feel like if our division head is going to enforce the mandate, the least they can do is make sure that our physical workspace allows us to be as productive as we are at home. I hate being a squeaky wheel, but since the executives all have large private offices, I don’t see how this issue gets resolved unless we keep voicing it. Unfortunately, I seem to be the only one willing to bring this up. Should I just give up?

If you’re the only one bringing it up … probably. You’re right on the facts — it makes no sense to bring people back to the office if you’re all going to sit on Zoom calls with remote staff all day anyway — but if you’ve raised it and been ignored/shut down and there aren’t enough other people joining you to make a concerted group push, it’s unlikely that you’ll make any headway, at least right now. (For what it’s worth, you probably weren’t going to get a lot of traction with the noise argument regardless; lots of offices have always had people on calls all day. The “why are we coming in if it makes our work harder without adding any benefit?” is a stronger argument, but a lot of management teams have decided they’re not swayed by it.)

4. My boss makes lots of typos — should I offer to proofread her newsletters?

I’m an elementary school teacher. My principal is a wonderful person. She’s great with the kids, the staff and the parents. When she sends out a newsletter or email, however, I wince from the number of typos. She’s a big fan of the apostrophe plural and frequently confuses there/they’re, your/you’re, etc. Nothing catastrophic, but as a school, I think this reflects poorly on us. I’d be happy to proofread these for her, but there’s no way I can broach this without acting like I feel that I’m smarter than her. I should leave this to the grandbosses and stay in my own lane, right?

Yeah, you should leave it alone. If someone above her cares, they’ll raise it with her.

You’re right that it looks bad; it’s just not your job to fix it. Plus, the last thing you need as a teacher is more unpaid work.

My high school principal used to do the same thing, and teenage me took extreme pleasure in marking up his communications with red pen and leaving them in his office in-box. Fortunately your students aren’t at that age yet.

are senior execs too busy for spelling and grammar?

{ 584 comments… read them below }

  1. British*

    LW3, if you can send an update, please do! This sounds like an absolutely ridiculous situation and I hope it was resolved ahead of the day!

    1. AdAgencyChick*

      The holding company that owns the agency I work for has recently declared that all employees who live within a certain radius of the office must now come in 3 days a week. But the office spaces they send us to are ill equipped to handle even the few employees who have been coming in without being made to do so, and it’s going to be even worse once more people come in. I’ve already noticed it on calls where one or more team members on the call are in the office: They’re doing the call at their desk with headphones, but when they unmute, we can hear all the noise around them, and I bet people who are trying to do some solo work find overhearing other people’s calls annoying.

      It’s expensive to reconfigure office space to accommodate more conference rooms, so the holding company won’t do it. Oh yeah, and a large plurality of my company’s employees live too far away to be considered hybrid, so pretty much every meeting has to be a call anyway.

      My agency, as well as some others owned by the same company that I’ve heard about, are responding to the holding company’s demand by saying “we were told to tell you that you have to come in, but we’re not going to enforce it.” Boy, do I hope the holding company doesn’t stomp its feet and try to use sticks (since they are clearly uninterested in using carrots). But this brand of ridiculousness is certainly not confined to OP3’s company, and it’s driven by higher-ups who have forgotten what it’s actually like to try to get work done when you don’t have an office with a door.

      1. AVP*

        I genuinely think I would find an official personal address three feet over the radius line in this situation.

        1. Ridley*

          My brother-in-law was hired somewhere that had a rule if you were over 50 miles from their office you could work remotely. They lived in an apartment about 45 miles from the office. They have since bought a house in their same town, 51 miles away from the office.

          What a stupid, arbitrary rule. Either you can effectively work from home in a position or you can’t.

    2. Ama*

      I went full time remote (moved to another state) a couple months before my employer forced people back to the office and I logged on to our first staff meeting since the return a couple weeks ago (which was on a required in office day) to find everyone in the office had logged on to Zoom on their own computers. I was furious on behalf of my direct report (who is still in office) — I thought the whole point of making people return was so we could have face to face meetings. If I had been in the office still I would have had a migraine by the end of that meeting from being able to hear people speaking in the office and over the Zoom call.

      My employer has had remote employees since before the pandemic and we routinely had all staff meetings in the conference room with the remote employees calling in via Zoom/speakerphone. No one seems to know why that wasn’t done this time.

      Needless to say morale is absolutely terrible in the office because the senior staff don’t seem to want to hear anyone’s complaints about how much harder the hybrid work schedule (which is barely that — you are required to be in office T/W/Th, no exceptions) is making people’s work.

      1. JustaTech*

        My company has almost always had remote meetings (back when they were just on speakerphone) because we have sites all over the country.
        When we went “back to the office” we genuinely tried to at least have the people on-site in the same room, but since our conference software had changed (from WebEx to Teams) we’ve never gotten it to work correctly (the audio is terrible and we still only have a laptop camera).
        So now we’re taking meetings from our desks (or an empty office) where half the people calling in are in the same building.

    3. Mr Wind-Up Bird*

      If the company’s response is “get noise-cancelling headphones” I’d say they should at least offer to pay for them. Good ones aren’t cheap, and I think if a tool is required to do your job the company should provide it (I realize most companies don’t agree with me – I’m required to have a smartphone for some functions of my role and my employer pays for neither the device or the data plan).

      1. Nina*

        I’m in a country where if an employer requires you to have a tool for a job, they are indeed required to provide it (with the exception of some tradespeople where it’s well-known that they prefer to use their own tools, and the company pays an additional stipend as a kind of rental fee to acknowledge that the tradie owns the tools they’re using on the company’s jobs).
        A previous employer wanted me to have a smartphone for some 2FA stuff and to install Teams for out-of-hours contact. I asked when they planned to provide a smartphone and phone plan. They said they weren’t. I said ‘well it’s not required then is it’. Lo and behold I spent nearly three years at that company with no smartphone and they ponied up for one (1) subscription to a SMS-based 2FA system that worked with my dumb phone and told my manager that any all-team announcements he put on Teams outside of working hours had to be sent to me by SMS separately. They were cheap but scrupulous.

  2. Susan*

    For the principal in letter #4, I think whether to offer a correction (or even just note that there are errors) depends on to whom the newsletters and emails are addressed. If it’s internal, let it go. If it’s going out to parents, please correct it. As a parent, it made me crazy to get semi-literate communications from the people who were supposed to be educating my child. In a business, you wouldn’t let something go out like that to a client. Here, that’s what the parents are.

    1. nnn*

      that would be good advice if the OP were the principal’s boss instead of an underling. it’s not her job and this is her boss. it shouldn’t be on her to have to broach it.

      1. Susan*

        I don’t think that it’s the kind of thing that the principal’s boss will see unless there’s a complaint. It’s not good for anyone to let it get to that point. As it’s making the school look bad, it’s within the OP’s role to let the principal know that they “missed some errors”.

        1. Michelle Smith*

          I completely disagree. Her role is to teach the kids, not manage the principal’s communications.

          1. ferrina*

            I don’t think she’s responsible for her boss’s communications, but if she feels comfortable offering her services, I think she’s within her bounds to do that. I’ve done similar for a couple bosses in the past (hey, do you want me to draft this communication? or want me to lay out this slide? or want me to take first crack at this project plan?). A good boss is often relieved and appreciative of this kind of offer (and OP says her boss is a good one). But it’s definitely not obligatory, and if OP doesn’t have time/bandwidth/interest, there’s nothing wrong with not saying anything.

            1. umami*

              Yeah, my boss used to send me his communications to edit, and then I started offering to go ahead and produce a draft for his review instead because that was easier. He is extremely intelligent and highly educated, but I do communications for a living and have a knack for it that he … just doesn’t. It’s not a matter of intelligence or literacy to not be highly skilled in grammar and composition. I still have to ask someone to double-check me when I’m doing percentages because I have a weird gap in knowledge relating to that, not because I’m innumerate.

    2. Fierce Jindo*

      Parents aren’t clients. This is a bad model of what education is or how it works; it’s not a product.

      If my kid’s school sent something like that, I’d wince and roll my eyes, but also try to have a sense of perspective about which traits matter in a school supervisor. I *would* probably pay extra attention to whether my kid’s actual teacher had a reasonable approach to teaching literacy.

      1. Jam on Toast*

        I got mono in university. I was in perfect health and a varsity athlete to boot. I have never been so sick. I missed six weeks of classes, lost nearly 25 pounds (I was skeletal), got jaundice, and was so exhausted I slept 20+ hours a day. You don’t need a preexisting condition to worry about mono but if it can do all that to a robustly healthy twenty year old, it could literally kill anyone with a preexisting condition. The co worker with the infectious kid is a genuine risk and the reluctant manager is a nincompoop.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          Nesting fail–and content is worth highlighting. We know someone who like you was a healthy athletic college student when she got mono. She ended up hospitalized and was close to death.

          I hope OOP told the event coordinator.

          1. Katy*

            My cousin got mono in his teens, developed chronic fatigue and a severe heart condition from it, and died of it several years later.

        2. BGreen*

          Yeah, getting mono when I was a kid set off an immune reaction that resulted in type 1 diabetes for me. Not something to mess around with.

          1. Jessica Ganschen*

            As I recall, mono infections have also been implicated in some cases of arthritis, lupus, celiac, and even multiple sclerosis. When it comes to the possibility of post-viral autoimmune disorders, mono is really high on the list of ones you don’t want.

          2. Wams352*

            BGREEN- fellow type 1 here- I had mono in 2nd grade – but chicken pox in 11th grade and my research led me to blame chicken pox (was diagnosed with type 1 about 20 months later). Just curious about the mono connection to your diabetes and how you know. Every one of my doctors basically was like ‘we don’t know why you have it,’ which is why I did my own digging.

    3. Unkempt Flatware*

      I actually do disagree with the advice to let it go. But I’m also pretty rebellious and a former teacher. A teacher risks very little in most cases by saying something. I may even have my students proofread it and give it to her with corrections. Well, okay, probably not that far.

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        Yeah, I’m in a different country (given the use of the term “elementary school” and the suggestion that there is a “grandboss”) but certainly here, it would be completely in order for a teacher t say, “hey, I’d love to be involved with the newsletter” or “would you like me to glance over the newsletter before you send it out?”

        The e-mails would be harder to broach as offering to look over somebody’s e-mails is more likely to sound critical.

    4. Double A*

      No, you are not a client. Society has deemed it a social good for children to be educated. That’s why everyone pays for it with their taxes. If you send your kids to a private school it’s more akin to being a client, but I still think that’s a sad way to think about education.

      And typos don’t make someone “semi-literate.” Educators produce a ton of writing all day every day and we don’t have anyone checking it; many people have a hard time catching their own errors and honestly educators barely have time for bathroom breaks much less proofreading. That being said, something like a newsletter should get a second set of eyes on it and I think the teacher can raise this though I wouldn’t volunteer to do it.

      1. Well...*

        “And typos don’t make someone “semi-literate.” This. I like that Allison included a link to a letter about high level execs doing the same thing. Would anyone call them semi-literate?

        1. Veryanon*

          On this topic, I was recently involved in some interviews with internal candidates for a high-level, high visibility position. All the candidates were managers or higher. One candidate submitted a resume with numerous typos; the slide deck that he submitted (that all the candidates were asked to prepare) also had a number of typos. I have to admit that I found it very distracting and took away from my ability to evaluate him based on his qualifications. I don’t consider him semi-literate by any means, but one of the requirements of the position is that the selected candidate is asked to do hands-on communications with a wide distribution, and I’d worry that all of his stuff would need to be proofed before going out. I think typos matter; they say to me that the person doesn’t have great attention to detail or the willingness to have someone proof-read their work. (I’m not talking about one minor typo, I’m talking about many that would have been caught by a someone proofing the document.)

        2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

          It’s not a matter of whether they are literate. The fact is, if you want to put out something and have people read it, it needs to be well-crafted. People quit websites after the fifth spelling mistake, they probably do the same with any written stuff, it’s just that it wasn’t ever measurable with hard copy.
          btw, it’s an unconscious move, when someone quits a website because of the fifth spelling mistake, they don’t say “right that’s the fifth typo I’m outta here”, they say “hmm I dunno this website doesn’t come across as all that serious really”.

          If a thing’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly as my parents taught me. So I would say the OP could ask if she could help with the newsletter and simply make sure it doesn’t go out without being carefully proofread first.

      2. Rainbow*

        If a child (at least in the older years of primary school) made those same errors, they’d be asked to correct them though… to a parent of a kid struggling with this it’d feel like a double standard

        1. Twix*

          Sure, which is why it looks bad for the school. But students and school administrators aren’t peers; students are there to learn and the principal is not. Any parent who thinks “Why should my child have to learn to do X correctly if the principal doesn’t?” has fundamentally misunderstood the point of education.

          1. Maree*

            Aren’t principals supposed to lead by example?

            I’m a parent who thinks principals should be held to high academic standards and I believe I have an excellent grasp of the purpose of education.

            1. Grammar Stalinist*


              These are not minor typos in an iPhone text message. They are examples of consistently incorrect usage in someone’s work product produced at a place that is supposed to teach literacy.

              1. kittybutton*

                Yes, this is key. It sounds like these are not actually typos; they are incorrect grammar and usage. I agree with others that this may not be the most important qualification for a school principal, but it’s definitely a bad look and a bigger deal than routine typos.

            2. Falling Diphthong*

              Principals are supposed to take care of the administrative aspects of running a school. If they’re terrible at that but do it with beautiful spelling, they are not fulfilling the job functions.

              I agree that correcting the spelling errors would be optimal on an organization level. However, people still have to function in hierarchies where “But I am RIGHT about how to spell ‘there’!” is not the last word on how everyone has to listen to them, and be gratetful for the correction.

            3. ClaireW*

              You know people can be dyslexic, for example, and still have ‘high academic standards’ right? Spelling isn’t the ultimate demonstration of academic prowess as much as some folks want it to be. And I’m saying that as someone who reads a lot and finds it very grating to read frequent typos, I still think that judging someone’s academic abilities by their spelling mistakes is cruel and unreasonable.

              OP of that letter, maybe you could approach it from a “Look at this grammarly tool I found that catches so many of my typos!” approach and let the principal try it out herself rather than directly say “You can’t spell” lol.

              1. Well...*

                Yea I feel like this is the same as people who are super into doing arithmetic and think it makes them good at math in general. Like, calm down, you’ve perfected a very low-level skill and a computer can do for you.

                Language policing comes with a whole other set of awful baggage, though, so the analogy isn’t perfect.

              2. umami*

                Yes, my husband is not a native English speaker and is brilliant; he sat for the MCAT for fun because he drove a friend and had nothing else to do and ended up getting into med school before becoming a college professor. He is a prolific and engaging writer and has a near-photographic memory. Yet he can’t spell and uses commas as decoration! He simply doesn’t have a strong background in English grammar and spelling. Just because someone needs a good editor doesn’t mean they are not intelligent. It’s a shame that somehow spelling and grammar are the default for judging intellect, and the need some people have for policing other’s language and grammar is noxious.

                1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                  Thing is it’s an unconscious bias too. Studies have shown that people quit websites after the fifth typo. When someone quits a website because of the fifth spelling mistake, they don’t say “right that’s the fifth typo I’m outta here”, they say “hmm I dunno this website doesn’t come across as all that serious really”.
                  It’s measurable on websites but probably people disengage from any written material in the same way. It just doesn’t wash for so many people.

              3. Five4Five*

                The mother of a good friend was a cancer researcher. 13 yo me thought only uneducated or unintelligent people couldn’t spell, until I saw how my friend’s mother couldn’t spell – she was educated and intelligent – but dyslexic.

            4. Lynn Whitehat*

              Correct English isn’t even a high standard. It’s the absolute baseline.

            5. t4ci3*

              Lead who? Principals are in charge of the administrative of running a school. When I was in elementary I saw my principal twice, and one of those was a photo in a local news story about the school, and interacted with him never.

          2. alienor*

            I don’t think it’s “why should my child have to learn if the principal does it,” it’s “how will my child learn if the people educating them don’t know?”

            1. Rainy*

              The chance that the principal is ever in the classroom with your child in any instructional capacity is so dim as to be laughable.

              1. Kindred Spirit*

                Unfortunately, that’s not the case where I live. We have a profound shortage of substitute teachers, and if they can’t find one, the principal has had to step in and do it.

              2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

                Wow in rural areas we have people doubling up as teacher and principal, even teaching several classes at once, because there are not enough children to warrant several teachers. The principal is almost always a former teacher even if they don’t have any teaching load left.

            2. Twix*

              Both types of people exist. I’d say the latter group instead fundamentally misunderstand what the principal’s role is. They’re there to run the school organizationally, not to instruct students.

            3. Indigo a la mode*

              I have a friend who’s a second-grade teacher and every time she says “My husband and I’s [noun],” I die a little inside. She’s smart, but she’s also in charge of teaching introductory grammar and that’s not it.

      3. Boolie*

        “And typos don’t make someone ‘semi-literate.’”

        Given that they’re making very basic errors, it tells me that they don’t read often enough to realize how wrong they are, and they don’t realize the importance of proofreading. Being prone to spelling errors isn’t a fault in itself but not caring to read it over before publishing it is. I would classify that as semi-literate.

        1. AcademiaNut*

          Or someone is overtired, over-worked and trying to get something finished in a hurry.

          I’m hyper-literate, and read an average of a book a day for pleasure, in addition to job related reading and if I’m over tired and rushed, there’s nearly a 100% probability that what I’m writing will have silly mistakes in it, and I’m not going to see it unless I have a good night’s sleep and some time to read it over carefully the next day.

          1. umami*

            This seems most likely. I am an English/communications major and have spent most of my life communicating both in writing and verbally, and I make stupid mistakes sometimes, too. I actually did type the wrong ‘their’ once, and it was just a typo; I am well-versed in the rules of English grammar. Everyone needs a good editor. I actually produce most of my boss’ communications because it’s faster than editing his attempts, and it’s a shame that this principal either doesn’t have this help or has someone else preparing these communications who is not good at it. But to assume that the errors are because they don’t know any better doesn’t feel right to me. Some people also just have a greater tolerance for minor mistakes than others.

            1. LK*

              And even with a good editor, sometimes things slip through, because humans are gonna human. Even professionally published books often have a mistake or two that slipped past multiple levels of editing. Sometimes brains see what they expect to see and skip over a mistake.

        2. Harper the Other One*

          In addition to the pressures AcademiaNut mentioned… there are plenty of disabilities/neurodivergences that make writing without typos and punctuation errors difficult. My youngest has been reading at a high school level since grade 3 and averages a novel every day and a half but has a tendency to flip letters (nihgt instead of night, etc.) and struggles to proofread because their brain sort of goes “but I know what I wrote so it’s fine.”

          I would still argue that the principal should be using similar tools to what are expected of such students – my child has an accommodation to use grammar/spellcheck supports more heavily, for example – but I don’t think it’s fair to assume a lack of literacy is involved.

        3. Well...*

          Wow, hard disagree. Individual proofreading only does so much. I often don’t notice spelling errors in messages I send (and proofread) until after it’s sent, or until someone points it out. If you’re reading your own work, it’s easy to project the meaning you want onto the words that are written. This is a classic problem writers of all types face, and it’s why anyone who’s not under-resourced has a support system in place to catch this stuff (aka, someone paid to double check).

          Also, like, this is completely ignoring the fact that many people speak multiple languages and/or speak and write in English as a second language, and write in English professionally. I’m a native speaker so I often play the role of proofreader in my international collaborations of highly renowned researchers who have been fluently speaking English for decades. They are still more prone to these kind of typos because the number of rules to keep track of their minds is just higher (some of them speak like five languages). They have resources to proofread for formal publication (me sometimes haha), but I’ve seen people send emails and even newsletters out with similar typos. Calling them semi-literate is wildly inappropriate.

          Also as a funny aside, someone I know recently asked ChatGPT what to put on their CV to describe the fact that they grew up speaking a language fluently at home but never in school, so they can speak it but can’t read or write in it, and ChatGPT told them they should say they are “illiterate.” That gave us all a laugh.

          1. TechWorker*

            I’m sure schools are under resourced in lots of ways, but paying someone to proofread a principals emails is.. not the first thing they’d choose to fund.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              Having a second member of office staff proof the school newsletter is not illogical.

              1. Michelle Smith*

                The person you’re responding to didn’t say it was illogical. They said it wasn’t the first thing a school would choose to fund. And I agree. Staff time may be better spent on other things. Unless you know that the office staff is sitting around with spare time on their hands, it’s not necessarily an actionable suggestion.

                1. ThatGirl*

                  Maybe it’s just because I’m a writer and editor but it shouldn’t take someone with a knack for grammar very long to proofread a newsletter, and especially for something so public, it seems like time well spent.

                2. Lenora Rose*

                  I can’t think of a school office that isn’t wildly busy.

                  For the record, I work in a school division (not in a school). There are parts of the division that aren’t always busy (usually in the “it goes in waves” manner rather than in the “underworked” manner) but school offices are not one of them.

              2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Eh, then you need to find someone who’s good at it, and they may or may not have someone who’s good at it in the front office. I’ve seen people “proofread” other people’s work and leave significant mistakes in it or even add mistakes. It’s a specific skill.

                1. Richard Hershberger*

                  It’s when the proofreader introduces new and compelling mistakes that bothers me.

                2. umami*

                  Yes! I’ve been trying to train one of my direct reports on proofreading; it’s not just about what content is there, but what content might be missing, or misconstrued, or unclear, or inconsistent (yes, you have Tuesday, May 4, 2023, nothing is spelled wrong, but Tuesday is not May 4).

            2. Well...*

              I’m not suggesting that, but the more resources you move away from proofreading (demands on the principal’s time count), the more likely you are going to see typos in newsletters. Your options are to either 1) live with it or 2) invest more resources or 3) antagonize & discriminate against large swaths of the population by claiming people who make grammar errors in a rush are semi-literate.

              Choose your adventure, but I’d say 1 > 2 >>> 3.

            3. raktajino*

              in the schools I’ve worked at, there’s at least someone at the front desk who is not a teacher or principal. That person answers the phones, is the first line of communication with parents, and is often involved in some way with all-school communication.

              Even if that person isn’t the world’s greatest proofreader, it sounds like there are only a handful of types of errors that the principal is making. Those specific rules are easy: no plurals with apostrophes, etc. Catching your own typos is difficult, it’s easier to catch someone else’s, especially if you have a few specific things to check for.

        4. Engineer*

          Yeah, no. I write a ton for my job. I also read a ton for work and pleasure. I seem to be physically incapable of typing “and” correctly on a keyboard, and I often skip over a word or two when I’m typing fast and in a groove. I won’t always check these mistakes on a rereae, because I know what it’s supposed to say. That does not make me semi-literate. It makes me human.

          Also, dyslexia continues to remain a thing.

        5. Falling Diphthong*

          … Okay, the definition of “semi-literate” is not someone who doesn’t proofread to catch common typos.

        6. Jennifer @unchartedworlds*

          Reading and spelling don’t always go together. They did for me, but not everyone easily picks up spelling just from seeing a word enough times.

        7. MCMonkeyBean*

          Well you would be objectively wrong as that is not what semi-literate means. If you’re going to be that pedantic about the principals proofreading errors then it’s awfully hypocritical for you to go around making up your own definition of words in the process…

        8. Ask a Manager* Post author

          “it tells me that they don’t read often enough to realize how wrong they are”

          This is demonstrably incorrect. There are frequent readers, and excellent writers, who are bad at this specific (low-level!) aspect of writing. There are also people with dyslexia, as one example.

          I agree that the principal should care enough to have public communications proofread but it’s wildly incorrect to call someone who writes this way semi-literate. Please stop that.

        9. Lydia*

          Anyone should have someone read over things that are being sent out. It has nothing to do with how literate they are and everything to do with looking at something over and over makes you blind to errors. Chances are the principal might not realize they should have someone else take a look at the newsletter before it goes out. Which still has absolutely nothing to do with how literate they are.

        10. mc*

          Sorry, hard disagree.

          A newsletter is a professional communication and the school is supposedly run by professional educators who are purporting to teach, among other things, spelling and grammar. If the any official communication from the school has spelling and grammar errors in it, that tells me they aren’t sufficiently focusing on their job.

          Yes, anyone can make a typo or minor error in casual writing…but I strongly believe professional writing including items that are “published” through sending them outside the institution should be held to a higher standard. It’s not that hard to get someone to proofread.

          1. Rebecca*

            As someone who has had to keep 25 children alive from one end of the day to the next, I hope you can understand that teachers and principals have to do a lot of triage, and decide where their focus goes in ways that somebody working at a desk does not. I can almost guarantee that you would rather most of my focus be on the child in the room who needs to stay safe, happy, and mostly learning something than on the computer in front of me searching for mostly harmless typos.

            If you saw the list of things that might pull a principal’s focus in the course of any given day, I think you’d find that proofreading the newsletter half the parents aren’t going to read anyway belongs pretty firmly near the bottom of the list.

          2. umami*

            It’s also possible that the principal isn’t actually creating the newsletter but is just having it sent from their email. They may not be reviewing everything in it outside of their introductory message, which is a completely different issue that can and should be addressed.

          3. SheLooksFamiliar*

            It would be great if all professional communication was flawless because companies happily provided a team of copy editors for everyone with a keyboard…or folks at least used Grammarly and spell-check apps.

            I’m a grammar nerd but think it’s unrealistic to expect school communications to read as if Random House published them instead of an overworked principal.

        11. umami*

          That’s … really unfair. I honestly cannot agree with anything this seems to be telling you, such as the principal is not well-read, or doesn’t realize proofreading is important, or doesn’t care. Words have actual meanings, and it is rather insulting to say this principal is semi-literate just because his tolerance for error-prone communications differs from yours.

        1. Jennifer Strange*

          Please stop making that generalization. People make mistakes and that’s okay. Yes, in a perfect world someone would be there to proofread and catch it, but our school system is overworked as it is. I am a great writer and I was looking at copy I recently wrote and found 3 mistakes. They happen, and it doesn’t mean someone is “semi-literate”.

          1. Grumpus*

            I agree. I was and am a grammar nerd; I am proud to say I can spot a misspelling at a distance. However. I am also a mid-level manager, and my job is stressful with lots of interruptions during the day. It doesn’t surprise me to reread some of my communications and realize I’m making minor mistakes. I wonder if the school has an admin person who could potentially review the principal’s communication. I know I could use one! Bottom line, people are busy, and if it were my kid’s school, I’d tend to just roll my eyes and get on with my day.

          2. umami*

            Likewise! I am an English/communications major, spent half my career as a journalist and the other half in marketing/communications, and I still make mistakes. I catch them 99.99% of the time, but not always. I also review our president’s newsletter and create his monthly message, which I send to him for his approval. There are times when once the newsletter is formatted, I see an error in his message that neither he nor I have caught. That’s why there are multiple review points! Just because this school principal doesn’t have layers of checks and balances doesn’t mean she is ‘semi-literate’.

          3. MCMonkeyBean*

            Seriously–I proofread my comment above at least 4 times because I particularly hate having grammatical errors in discussions on grammar… and I still left out the apostrophe in “principal’s”

            Anyone who thinks a handful of grammar errors in a newsletter is a catastrophe is welcome to run for office and work to make sure our schools are so well-funded that they can afford staff to do things like proofread communications. If they don’t want to do that… then they need to chill the heck out.

            1. Margaret Cavendish*

              Anyone who thinks a handful of grammar errors in a newsletter is a catastrophe is welcome to run for office and work to make sure our schools are so well-funded that they can afford staff to do things like proofread communications. If they don’t want to do that… then they need to chill the heck out.

              Repeated for all the emphasis!

              1. Clutching my Grammar Pearls*

                Nobody said it was a catastrophe, hyperbole much? If grammar and spelling aren’t important, why are they even taught?

                I see lots of defense of mistakes in this commentary, but it just takes a few minutes to have a second set of eyes look at the stupid newsletter and correct the most egregious errors. I would judge hard if I saw multiple errors in a newsletter. But I’m a detail-minded eagle eye who thinks if something is worth doing, it’s worth doing with some level of quality. If it’s that unimportant, just stop publishing the thing.

                When it really matters, like in legal documents, I bet due diligence is exercised then regarding spelling and grammar.

                This text speak age has really increased tolerance for sloppy discourse. No excuse really with the myriad electronic tools available now, including good ol’ spell check.

                That said, I don’t care about error in comment sections if the meaning is clear. Not that pedantic.

                1. Jennifer Strange*

                  Someone below literally referred to it as “catastrophic” and someone else suggested the principal be fired, so no hyperbole here.

                  And while it does t take long to proofread, the fact is educators are overworked and may not have that time. If the LW is able to do so great, but right now school professionals might have higher priorities

        2. ferrina*

          Common grammar/spelling errors doesn’t make someone semi-literate if they still have high reading comprehension and vocabulary. It’s also not a typo- the person typed what they meant to type. They simply have it stuck in their head in the wrong way.

          It still has no place in professional public-facing communications, where we expect a certain standard of proofing or review has gone into the messaging.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            Or it was an error introduced by auto-complete. I very much know the difference between its and it’s, but neither my phone nor e-mail auto-complete do.

        3. Well...*

          I think people are using the word “typo” as a convenience to mean “grammatical error that would easily be caught on second read-through.” I also think it has a clear difference from what you’re implying: many people would, on a test, know the difference between “they’re” and “their” but will still mix them up if rushed, ESPECIALLY when they type (because many can type much faster than they write, at a speed similar to or faster than how they talk). When we go that fast, we don’t think about how we’re spelling words, and for many people, the connections between thought -> phonetic sound -> key stroke are just going so fast that they randomly mix up two synonyms that they are aware mean different things.

          It’s not a typo in that you mixed up letters, but it’s a typo in that you typed something you didn’t intend/made a mistake you wouldn’t have made if you were writing by hand.

        4. eisa*

          Yes !! Thank you.
          The latter means you have no grasp of the grammar of your native language (assuming here that the principal’s native language is in fact English) and haven’t read too much in your life, because otherwise sheer instinct would prevent this type of errors.

          1. ferrina*

            I’m a voracious reader, have a ridiculously high vocabulary and perfect score on my verbal SAT. I read The Odessey when I was 12 (I borrowed my mom’s old copy from her college course) and had a better understanding than most people twice my age. I’ve got all the accolades.

            But I still can mix up common errors. I’ve got ADHD and sometimes my brain shorts out on me and makes silly mistakes. And it doesn’t even take that to get the wrong info stuck in your brain- think of how many people truly think Darth Vader said “Luke, I am your father” (actual line: “No- I am your father”)

            1. Well...*

              Hiya! I also got a perfect score on both verbal sections of the SAT (I’m dating myself, but I took it when it was out of 2400, and the weird third section had an essay if I remember correctly). And I’ve mixed up “they’re” and “their” in comments on this site, many times.

            2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              Seconded. Perfect score, high reading level, 13+ years as a professional writing instructor and tutor, and I still will find typos and grammar issues that creep into my class ppts occasionally. Found one on my resume the last time I reviewed it. Sometimes things just slip by us, especially if we are ND.

              1. AllisoninAK*

                Thirded! Absolutely perfect verbal score back when the total was out of 1600. I infrequently make grammatical errors, but I work with garments and designs and will accidentally typo ‘shirt’ to ‘shit’ all the ding-dong-day. Rayon gives this shit a soft hand. This is a really nice shit! And don’t get me started on the last time I typo’d ‘pop’ to ‘poop.’ This color really poops! Best to give makers of minor typos/errors the benefit of the doubt. Because shirt happens.

                1. Relentlessly Socratic*

                  I did my PhD in opioid research. It took YEARS into my post-doctoral life before I could type “Good morning” instead of “Good morphine” on the first try.

          2. lucanus cervus*

            This is nonsense. I have the skill of spotting an error at fifty paces, and it has very little to do with how much I’ve read. My brain is good at storing words correctly. It’s just a knack. I didn’t have to work at developing it, it’s just a quirk of my particular wiring and I’ve had it since childhood. I know people who read just as much as I do or more, but who don’t recall the precise shape of the words in the same way. Brains work differently.

            1. umami*

              Same. I am insanely good at spotting errors in communications, on TV, on pretty much anything. It’s what I call my super power. What I don’t do is criticize people who aren’t perfect, because seeing other people’s mistakes is way different than creating/missing your own. And I can never type the word ‘the’ without it coming out ‘teh’; that finger just get to the e first!

        5. Lenora Rose*

          Nope. I recently wrote a whole two pages (single spaced) or prose, in which I wrote fancier as fascia – twice! – and you should have seen how I mangled “Friendliest”. I have written “too” when I meant the number, and “to” when I meant “as well”. I have been astonished what comes out of my fingers when I have a word clearly in mind but my fingers are going along on their own. And I cannot write a name that ends with “in” without adding a “g” thanks to so many years of verbing, though I know that and the g is usually deleted within a second. Yes, I proofread my work, extensively, before I send it out, but I can easily imagine that if I was not allowed that luxury of time, or even better, a second pair of eyes, I could make people cringe.

          I have been writing prose, letters and contracts for my entire professional life, which is over 20 years long, and I am an excellent go-to person for a quick proofreading or document comparison in someone else’s work. Please, I dare you, claim I am semi-literate.

          1. Well...*

            Yes to all of this, you are reminding me of common typing mistakes I make All. The. Time. “Too” = “Two” = “To” at my typing fingertips when I clearly know the difference! It’s like my fingers are connected to sounds in my brain, not images. I’m not ND (as far as I’m aware), but I have always been very talkative and told many times that I was unusually (cringe at using this word) articulate from a young age, so maybe that’s it? Who knows.

            1. MCMonkeyBean*

              “It’s like my fingers are connected to sounds in my brain, not images.”

              HUH–this is probably totally unrelated but I found out I have aphantasia a few years ago and now I’m curious whether these things would be correlated. I “hear” words in my head but I don’t “see” them.

          2. MCMonkeyBean*

            “And I cannot write a name that ends with “in” without adding a “g” thanks to so many years of verbing”

            That just reminded me of one year when I was making Christmas cards. My name starts with “Ch” and I accidentally wrote out my name instead of “Christmas” three times in a row lol.

            I am not 100% sure but I believe my “typos” like that are heavily related to my ADHD–my brain has moved like three words ahead already and my fingers are just doing the best they can to keep up lol. I type the wrong word all the time, despite the fact that I was a voracious reader as a child and got a minor in creative writing in college.

            I also go back and try do a lot of editing, but for me I think this is actually my biggest source of errors as I will rearrange sentences and not realize until later that now I’m missing a word or have an extra or I decided to change tenses but I skipped one when updating or whatever other million errors might arise.

      4. Really?*

        Those aren’t typos; they are grammatical errors. Reminds me of a NY tabloid article years ago in which they printed a bunch of (handwritten, so no typos!) actual letters home, implying that the teachers were incapable of teaching correct grammar because they didn’t know it themselves. If it’s not a major lift for you, I’d find a kind way to offer to proof a newsletter before it goes out since it has a wide distribution. For e-mails she’s on her own, but it’s easier to explain mistakes in an email as a typo.
        Agree with all the comments about US teachers being underpaid and overworked!

        1. mc*

          Yup, when my daughter was in the 2nd grade she had a TERRIBLE teacher. Among other failings, this teacher would send handwritten letters home that contained misspellings of common words.

          She should have been fired. How hard is it to google words you are unsure of? The teacher also complained regularly to the entire class about how “math was too hard for girls”.

          Like it or not, poor spelling and grammar in a communication sent outside the institution and ostensibly authored by an educator is a massive “red flag”.

      5. Rebecca*

        This. A parent once told me that the reason his kid was failing history was because of a few typos in notes. Which I typed in class, with my computer hooked up to the whiteboard, taking notes as we discussed the issue, before hitting print and sending a kid on an adventure to get the notes to stick in binders. I promise, your child didn’t fail his history test because my typing skills aren’t at their best while I’m herding 25 cats.

    5. BatManDan*

      Agreed, she needs to stop sending newsletters, get them proofread, or be fired. I go for the latter, pretty much regardless, because no one should be in charge of educating children (teacher, principle, district administration) that has actually never learned grammar. If the school boards in my area weren’t so shady (backroom deals, illegal firings, embezzlement, stonewalling FOI requests) and I saw that locally, I’d take it to the school board or the district admin. Best bet in this case is send one or two to the local paper or local free weekly. They’ll have a field day with it, and SOMETHING will change.

      1. High School Teacher*

        You would recommend that the principal be FIRED for this? That is enormously out of proportion.

        Based on my own experience as a teacher, here is an incomplete list of things principals do: oversee 10-300 teachers, a maintenance staff, student support staff, and admin; communicate with the school board, parents, and the community; deal with discipline issues; maintain a safe building; oversee the professional development and licensure requirements for the teachers; organize the administration of standardized testing; and so much more work that is completely invisible to parents.

        The newsletter is 1 piece in an enormous puzzle and unfortunately, it is a hyper-visible piece. That doesn’t change the fact that this principal could be very good at the parts of the job that matter. I would rather have a principal who is careless with grammar than one who doesn’t ensure the A/C is working or who doesn’t evaluate their teachers fairly. Furthermore, your child is learning grammar from their teacher, not from their principal. The principal does not directly teach any students.

        1. GoodEnoughisGoodEnough*

          Right? I know enough about my child’s principal (and past principals) to know they’re great- so if I saw a newsletter with a few errors, I would assume that things are hectic and they’re juggling a lot, and I’d much rather them spend time on things that impact my kid/other kids/teachers/the school than spend more time on the newsletter (or potentially being concerned that they could lose their job if it isn’t Perfect).

          If I’m getting the information I need as a parent and the principal is making a good faith effort at effective communication, that’s good enough for me. Should principals and teachers set an example? Of course. But sometimes that example is that to be human is to be imperfect.

      2. Falling Diphthong*

        Should they be fired if they use ‘latter’ when referring to a list of three things?

        1. Well...*

          I try not to correct other people’s spelling and grammar in any situation where they can’t fix it immediately, or where I haven’t been explicitly asked to do so. But I will say there is a lot of fun irony going on here: the people who are complaining about grammar are making hella mistakes in this and other threads (I’m making mistakes too but at least it’s consistent with the point I’m trying to make lol).

        2. Richard Hershberger*

          I appreciate the snark, but in this case, from Merriam Webster:

          : of, relating to, or being the second of two groups or things or the last of several groups or things referred to

          Language snarking only works if you get it right.

      3. Irish Teacher*

        Honestly, if my local radio (I can’t think of any paper that would even entertain it; it really isn’t newsworthy) were to take a call on this, I think most people hearing would be rolling their eyes. I cannot imagine anything at all changing because people hear that a principal made typos. Worst case scenario for the principal is a few people would mutter about how a principal should take more care.

        And I don’t know about the rules where the LW is based but certainly, in Ireland, there would not even be a mechanism to fire a principal for this.

        Yeah, the principal should take more care but it really is an incredibly minor issue. It’s more an optics issue than anything else; it makes the school look bad. Ideally, somebody else would take over the newsletter, though as Alison said, teachers already do a fair bit of unpaid work and at elementary school, the teachers are probably in class all day, so for any of them to do it, it would mean doing so outside school hours in their free time and whether or not, they’d be willing to do that is debatable. If the school has a secretary or similar, they might be willing to take it over. If the principal is OK with that.

        But quite frankly, nobody is going to evaluate the principal based on the newsletter or e-mails they send out. They will be judged on stuff like their ability to maintain discipline in the school, possibly to secure funding for the school, to grow student numbers, to ensure that students with additional needs (educational or emotional) have their needs met, to ensure information is shared efficiently with staff, to hire effective teachers and to balance the competing needs and demands of teachers, students, parents, government, the school board, etc.

      4. ClaireW*

        Thousands of people who have dyslexia, ADHD or other issues that make it hard for them to catch typos are still incredibly good at their jobs (including teaching) and should not be FIRED over something like that. That is an incredibly gross and cruel attitude.

        In many cases, having teaching staff with these conditions can actually beneficial to kids who have them to show that it doesn’t mean they’re “stupid”, but according to your logic they basically are and shouldn’t be able to get jobs anyway.

      5. current journalist*

        I’d be shocked if any local journalist took time out of their day to write a story humiliating a principal for some misspellings in a newsletter. There’s way too many fires that actually matter to put out, and not enough of us to do even that. If they did decide this was a story? I’d have some incredible misgivings about their news judgement and most of all, their humanity.

        1. umami*

          Seriously. How many local newspapers are rife with errors. Which I totally get; I spent the first half of my career as a writer and editor. If you don’t work in that world, you don’t understand just how challenging it is to get a newspaper out every night, let alone ensure there are no errors in all of the reporters’ copy, in the headlines, in the wire stories, in the ads, etc. It’s basically an impossible job, so your focus is on making sure the big stuff is right, like the right headline with the right story, the right obit photo for the right dead person, the right day of the week to match the date. Nevermind major redesigns for late-breaking news! Yeah, they’re not going to care that no one is proofing a principal’s newsletter lol

      6. lucanus cervus*

        Fired?? For spelling mistakes? It would irk me too, and if I was an employee at the school I’d be itching to proofread her stuff before it went out – but if she was effective at running a school, why on earth would you want her gone over something this trivial? That takes skills far beyond mastering the apostrophe, for heaven’s sake. Not everyone needs to be able to do everything.

      7. Lydia*

        I bet you’re one of those folk who think teachers have to live perfectly innocuous lives or they’re unfit to teach children. You’re wrong and you’re ridiculous.

    6. DataSci*

      Parents are not clients, and this attitude is at the root of a lot of what’s wrong with public education! And as the parent of a kid with dyslexia, I have a lot more sympathy than I once did for spelling errors.

      1. Kaiko*

        Parents are not clients, but they sure are an audience. in my school since Covid, there are very few opportunities to interact with or be embedded in the larger school community – if this was my only exposure to the school principal, it would raise my eyebrows.

        1. ferrina*

          Agree. I think this is all about optics. If my kid’s school is regularly sending communications with grammar/spelling errors, I’m thinking that either:
          1) they hold admin to lower standards than students, and/or
          2) the principal/message writer is either too proud to ask for a quick proof or too arrogant to take editing feedback, and/or
          3) people are hesitant to point out errors to each other, perhaps due to a culture of fear or retaliation

          As a parent, I also wouldn’t assume that the principal is writing these messages. In every office I’ve worked at, the CEO doesn’t write the regular communications. I’d (apparently wrongly) assume the same would be true of the principal’s office.

          1. Allonge*

            1) they hold admin to lower standards than students, and/or

            Would you prefer that the students are not taught correct spelling or grammar?

            And instead of a culture of fear / pride, why not assume lack of time?

          2. DataSci*

            That’s a lot of reading between the lines! “A culture of retaliation”? Because of a typo? I’d think they’re human beings who made a mistake.

        2. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I would be surprised if half the parents never saw the errors or never identified that there were errors; or, if they did, they didn’t catch all of them. It sounds like much of what OP comments on are “common” issues that many, MANY people have. Your/you’re and plural apostrophes are some of the most common issues I help students with as a professional tutor and writing teacher. They are rampant. That doesn’t make parents semi-literate any more than it does the principal.

          1. Ophelia*

            Yeah, I hate to say this, but I’m a parent, and also someone who does a lot of writing for my job (and am very literate). Does my kids’ elementary school sometimes have typos/errors in communication? Yup. Do I have the mental bandwidth to even remember what those were? Nope, I’m struggling to keep my head above water enough to remember that there IS a field trip/bake sale/picnic, let alone whether there was a typo in the flyer.

            1. allathian*

              My son’s school sends out most of their communications on an app. I read it like I read posts on social media, so I’m a lot more tolerant of typos than when I read printed matter.

              I used to be a “Grammar Nazi” and I absolutely owned that to the point of being obnoxious about it. But I’ve apparently mellowed with age, because I no longer get my knickers in a twist over a few grammar errors in school bulletins.

        3. Mr. Shark*

          Bottom line, it is professional correspondence that should be treated as such, and therefore should have someone proofread before it’s sent out. If I were the principal, I’d be embarrassed to send out something that had typos and grammar errors. It’s especially bad because it is from a professional educational institution.
          Also, jumping to dyslexia or anything in that category is just bringing up facts not in evidence. We see this here all the time–bringing up every exception.
          If the Principal has dyslexia, there is even more reason for her to ask for someone to proofread before sending out a newsletter.

          1. DataSci*

            I’m not saying the principal has dyslexia – I’m saying that having a dyslexic kid makes it very obvious how spelling errors are not connected to intelligence, effort, or really much of anything.

      2. anon4eva!*

        English itself has arbitrary spellings, silent letters and other such nonsense that can make it less straightforward than other languages. Some grammar rules are pure memorization because there’s no logical or basis for them.

        1. Lydia*

          I mean, grammar rules in all languages are purely arbitrary and based on memorization. That’s one of the reasons why learning languages as an adult is more difficult than learning as a child.

    7. EvilQueenRegina*

      Have any parents actually given any feedback about it, I wonder? I know when I was nine years old and the teacher I had at the time sent home an assignment containing mistakes, some parents did go to the head teacher about it, and another time one parent saw spelling mistakes on the blackboard and corrected them herself.

    8. Fed up teacher spouse*

      This comment and every other unreasonable one in this thread (calling the principal “semi-literate” and demanding their FIRING!) illustrates perfectly why schools can’t retain good teachers and administrators. People like YOU are the reason my teacher husband gets heartburn, and I sincerely hope your student never crosses his path, because he and his coworkers have enough to deal with without this pedantic nagging over grammar.

      To contribute substantively to the discussion, I would like to note that all school administrators I know are so busy they barely have time to send emails, much less reread them, and their administrative assistants are the same. It might be nice for this principal to reread their emails, but as long as schools and teachers are forced to act as educators, social service providers, counselors, and even body guards for students, they’re so over-taxed that it won’t happen. Parents who harass or snipe at educators for literal typos are only adding to the burden, and making their situation worse, and contributing nicely to the talent drain from education.

    9. former teacher*

      I think LW4’s choices depend on two things: her willingness and interest in taking something additional on (which she seems to have) and her relationship with her principal. Hierarchy’s a bit flatter in educational atmospheres than it is in a lot of offices, and if they have a good relationship, this could be accepted easily and happily.

      I’ve seen this exact scenario play out where the principal was thrilled to get the help because, as it turned out, she had dyslexia and found these mistakes frustrating, but had no system in place to catch them before the newsletters or communiques were published. So if LW4 wants to do this, won’t find it a drain on her time and can approach it the right way? I say go for it.

    10. I have RBF*

      I have to admit that if I were a parent and got some semi-literate garbage from a school principal, I would photocopy it, then return it with red pen markup edits. If it happened again I might send a copy of that to the school board.

      For internal communication, it doesn’t matter. But for stuff going to customers/clients/parents it matters. I have dyslexia, and I would have someone proofread my stuff in that instance.

      But the LW, as a subordinate, can’t insist. They can offer to be a “handy second set of eyes”, but if the principal doubles down, back off and let them face the consequences. Because dollars to donuts there are parents out there who will complain about semi-literate communications.

    11. Lady Scrub*

      When I was in 9th grade, I brought home a large packet detailing a substantial project that encompassed all the disciplines. My dad marked every single typo/error in that packet and hand delivered it to the principal letting him know this was ridiculous for a school to send home. ☺️

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        My dad would do things like that as well and raised me to think it was fun. I used to be an awful grammar prescriptivist as a result and I’m so thankful that I grew out of it and realized how obnoxious and discriminatory that kind of behavior was.

      2. Jennifer Strange*

        I hope the principal invited him to give up his current position to take on a teacher’s workload (and pay!) so as to ensure that it never occurred again.

    12. Brian*

      LW 4: Here. Just to clarify things. 1) I’m a man. 2) The errors appear mostly on weekly emails/newsletters that go home to parents, just little ‘What’s happening at the school this week’ notes. The errors aren’t grave, but they’re consistent, especially the apostrophes as plurals. 3) The principal is an incredible woman with wonderful leadership and educational skills, and I’m shocked at how angry some of you are. Fire her? Over typos? 4) I’d be happy to look over the emails, but there’s no way an underling can suggest that without seeming to imply she should get my approval before sending things. It’s just a little thing, and I’m sure most parents don’t notice, but as a school, it does kind of bother me.

      1. Margaret Cavendish*

        Yeah, the anger on this thread is something else. I had no idea people cared that much about apostrophe faults! I’m sure they all have happy, fulfilling, and grammatically correct lives otherwise.

        As a highly literate native English speaker with two school age children, I can tell you two things for sure. I absolutely would notice the errors; and I absolutely would not care. As long as I can understand the message, that’s all I need!

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        I teach in a high school, and I have a good relationship with my principal. I think that in a situation such as this, I could say, “Hey Bob, this is me being persnickety, but I saw a couple of typos in the newsletter. Would you be willing to let me be a second pair of eyes on it, before it goes out?”

        The trick is a light, self-deprecating tone. I’m the one with the problem, can he let me grammar-nerd out for 15 minutes a week on the newsletter?

    13. raktajino*

      I used to run an after school care site that was part of a larger company. The CEO insisted on writing the all-sites newsletters and refused to let anyone proofread them. She was so petty, she would reprint newsletters from her original file. The typos were so bad, it led to genuine confusion about what events or snacks were when, and some of my parents would correct the newsletter right there at the sign out table. (Thankfully, they knew it wasn’t the site staff.)

      When I quit, I wrote an anonymous letter and the typo-ridden newsletters were one flag I raised about how dysfunctional the office was. My remaining coworkers told me she was irate and was asking everyone if they knew who wrote the letter. Did she improve? I doubt it. Hopefully the office staff got better at sneaking the last minute proofs.

      I hope #4’s principal is just scatterbrained and will let someone in the office do a final check.

    14. Susan*

      It was me who first wrote “semi-literate” here, but it was describing communications I had actually received from my son’s elementary school, not what was in the letter.

      In my case, it was part of a pattern that included my son reading well below grade level, the inability of a third grade teacher to grasp the math she was teaching, the low standardized test scores for the school, and classes where one teacher had a large class and 30% of the students had IEPs.

      It was beyond my ability to fix and ultimately we changed schools. It was Canada, so he could stay in public school but switch to French Immersion. My son is now doing well in law school. And I teach at a community college.

      So while the particulars of this letter are very mild in comparison, as a parent I’d want to make sure it wasn’t just the canary in the coal mine. And also, am I the only one who grew up hearing, “Any job worth doing is worth doing well”?

      1. Rebecca*

        I heard “Any job doing is worth doing well” all the time growing up. It led me to believe that any and all mistakes were unacceptable and that any work that had even a small mistake in it lost all of its worth. It led to anxiety and perfectionism, and an unwillingness to do anything I wouldn’t be the best in – I refused to enter my school’s writing competition because I was the second best writer in my class.

        Thankfully, in recent years, I have been able to get that voice I grew up with mostly out of my head.

      2. Anon teacher*

        It certainly does sound like your son’s former school had some significant problems, but it seems like the spelling issues were a symptom rather than the problem. I would suspect that the bigger issue was large classes with high needs. Provincial Departments of Education love inclusive education models but flatly refuse to fund them, preferring to gaslight teachers into believing that the fault is in their practice if they can’t teach 15 different lessons in the space of an hour. The end result is that teachers who are good educators burn out, kids like your son, who can be independent are ignored (it’s constant triage) and yes, no one has any time to proofread.

        I hate to say it, but it’s spreading to Immersion too. My students with dyslexia. dysgraphia, ADHD etc. get 0 resource support in French, only in English, because that’s what we test them on, even though they are screwed in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies and Science if they can’t read or understand French.

    15. Heather*

      I don’t think the OP can really address it, but as a parent I agree! My son’s school (which I very much like) often sends communications with errors– I recently got one congratulating me that my son was “excepted” onto a science team. It is embarrassing, but a teacher can’t really correct her boss’s grammar without seeming like an ass.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

    LW2: People really haven’t learned anything from COVID. Sometimes it seems like some people have intentionally gone backwards in exercising common sense. I can’t imagine anyone thinking “yes sure, bring a child with strep and mono in here” PRE-COVID but now it’s like a badge of honor for some people to be deliberately obtuse about disease. 10-15 years ago my coworkers would have pointedly snarked that they weren’t accepting an unasked for gift of infection and wiped everything down with Lysol if Karen had been the one who was sick and insisted on coming in. Why would it be any less of a problem if it’s her child? It’s all so exasperating.

    1. Bluebird*

      Idk, people used to bring their sick kids to work all the time at my old job. That being said, it was a nonprofit with horrible work-life balance and everyone was working paycheck to paycheck, so if your kid was too sick to go to school and you didn’t have a grandparent or neighbor it was your only real option. But while I sympathized it also drove me crazy because I ended up using a ton of my own limited time off nursing germs I picked up from coworkers kids.

      1. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life*

        To clarify: I look at Bring Your Kid to Work day as completely different from situations where it was unavoidable due to lack of childcare and had compassion for the parent and child (while also desperately trying not to catch it). AFAIK, Bring Your Kid To Work day is optional, and their FAQ said not to bring sick kids, so bringing in said sick child for an entirely optional day feels like gratuitously bad judgement.

        1. EPLawyer*

          It is incredibly bad judgment — especially when the company offered a VIRTUAL OPTION FOR SICK KIDS. So its not like oh darn Susie is going to miss out if I don’t bring her. The company actually planned for this possibility and Karen didn’t care.

        2. I have RBF*

          See, when I was in an office I could mostly tolerate Bring Your Kid To Work day, because most of the kids were well behaved and not, you know, sick and infectious.

          But if someone brought a kid with mono and strep in? I would have gone ballistic. It’s bad enough when coworkers come in sick, which I hate, but it’s even worse when they drag in their kids for group events when those kids are sick. They’ve now made all the other kids, and their parents, and all the non-parents, sick with whatever infectious crap they dragged in.

          I hope your manager likes it when the illnesses that Karen “gifted” the office circulate through the office for the next three months, screwing up productivity due to large swaths of people getting sick.

          1. DJ Abbott*

            If it was me, I would call off the day the child was there and bring disinfectant wipes next day to wipe down ny workstation, counters, door handles, copiers, and anything else I’m likely to touch.
            Try and stop me.

              1. Enai*

                Yeah, Strep at least seems to be airborne (the kind of airborne where they placed petri dishes on top of high shelves around the room, had a person with strep sray in the room, incubated the dishes and had a nice bacterial culture of the patients strain emerge. Droplet nothing, nobody can spit that high!) and I think Mono is also.

                I’m not giving up my mask anytime soon.

            1. Dog momma*

              DJ Abbott, I’m in! right behind you. strep AND mono.?? wth is wrong with people. This PARENT should be the one working from home the next few days…its a miracle nobody is sick yet!

      2. Well...*

        Hah, you’re giving me flashbacks to all my sick days spent in my mom’s office as a kid.

        1. My Cabbages!*

          I vividly remember sleeping under the desk in my mom’s office…the day my class had a field trip to visit the commercial bakery she ran.

          I got to come out and say hi to my class.

      3. Love to WFH*

        That boss who thinks it find to bring a kid with mono and strep throat into the office? I bet they send their kids to daycare and school sick.

        1. Irish Teacher*

          I’m staring at the boss even more than at the coworker. Don’t get me wrong, bringing a sick child into work, possibly having a negative impact on their recovery and exposing many other people, some of whom may be immunocompromised, to serious illness, is seriously bad, but I can at least see how that person could be well…selfish and think “my child really wants to attend/I was hoping to avoid paying for childcare/I think my child would really benefit from attending” and not consider anybody else, whereas the boss…has nothing to gain and quite a bit to lose by allowing this, yet not only do they allow it but they retaliate on the LW for saying what everybody should.

          Saying the LW “wasn’t respecting” Karen is just…a bizarre response. Even if this had been something different and the LW was overreacting (like the child had been sick a couple of weeks ago and was no longer contagious, but the LW was being really over-cautious), she still wouldn’t be “disrespecting” Karen. I’m actually wondering if the supervisor was given an “edited” version of what happened, like she was told the LW had accused her of child abuse or yelled in her face something, because her reaction is so utterly bizarre. But it’s more likely, she just is completely unreasonable.

          Your comment that she probably sends her kids to school sick is a possible half-explanation, that she knows she’s doing wrong and is annoyed at the LW for making her feel guilty.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I’ve had mono twice, both times I wanted to do nothing but sleep. If I was Karen’s kid I’d be the grumpy kid who got nothing from the day.

            1. Effing Mono?!?!*

              Right? Not only is she exposing everyone else to a terrible disease, but the kid *needs* extra sleep to get better. she’s just hindering her child’s recovery.

              And if I recall correctly I needed 2 weeks off school to recover from mono. Wonder how the boss will feel about Karen’s poor feelings if everyone on the team suddenly needs 2 paid sick weeks at once…

              1. DJ Abbott*

                I think you’re right. I didn’t have it myself, but kids who did would be out for weeks.

          2. CommanderBanana*

            Not to be That Person, but the response would have me seriously side-eyeing anything else about Karen, the boss, and their interactions, because it’s SUCH an over the top and egregious reaction (reminds me of the HR and the spicy food thief firing and the aftermath of that).

        2. Clorinda*

          If the kid has a fever and doesn’t feel up to participating in all the activities, I feel absolutely certain that Boss will offer their office as a temporary sickroom and will even volunteer to babysit said child.

      4. sundae funday*

        Yeah people continue to bring their sick kids to my office because several of my coworkers are single moms and they don’t have anyone else to watch their kids…. Our sick leave isn’t very good (10 days per year combined of vacation/sick pay) so I don’t say anything. I hate it, though.

      5. Nina*

        I spent a number of school sick days parked in the corner of my dad’s office. That said, I arrived with him at his usual arrival time considerably before the rest of the building, I left with him at his usual leaving time considerably after the rest of the building, and I was allowed to leave his (closable-doored, far from other desks) office only to use the bathroom. Only the building admin who had to know anyway for fire warden purposes knew I was there.

    2. Well...*

      Do you think this is mainly a US thing? I haven’t seen the same reaction where I live. There are some people grumpy about getting vaccines (I’ve has to cringe my way through a few conspiracy theory conversations), but no one aggressively touting common sense health advice. If anything, people are way more apologic when they come to work sick or spread a cold at a party than they used to be.

      I’m moving back to the states soon (I’ve lived abroad since way before the pandemic) and I’m getting stressed about what I’m walking into.

      1. Clorinda*

        It depends on where you’re moving. Sadly, common sense in the personal health arena has become and red/blue combat line.

        1. Lydia*

          It can be argued part of our (I’m in the US) issue around common-sense health decisions is because we have such awful health coverage. It’s what’s given rise to a lot of weird, and often dangerous, forms of alternative medicine, and it’s probably a natural outgrowth of having to avoid doctors because people can’t afford them. You start with a society that avoids doctors because they’re too expensive and you end up with a society suspicious of doctors because they’re so expensive, they must be ripping you off somehow.

      2. HigherEdAdminista*

        It could be a thing that happened more in the States. I would love to see some trustworthy research done on this kind of topic.

        The tone I get here from society at large, and being pushed by governments at every level, is that there is no reason to protect yourself or others from getting sick. There are people who believe that the reason they are constantly sick now isn’t immune system dysfunction from repeated infections with a novel virus (that is known to cause immune system dysfunction) but because they occasionally wore a mask two or three years ago. I still wear a mask at work and someone with a doctorate recently told me that when I finally take my mask off, I am going to be sick for about a month, because that is what happened in their house. I even get people thinking it is laughable to open the windows to let fresh air into a space.

        There was always an undercurrent of belief here (and of course societal structures enforcing it) that sick days should not be a thing, but I think COVID did change some folks perspective on that… so we are just left watching in horror as people explain how it is great to get sick often because… that prevents you from getting sick often… somehow…

        1. On Fire*

          “I even get people thinking it is laughable to open the windows to let fresh air into a space.”

          Who are they, Nero Wolfe?! People, ugh.

          1. HigherEdAdminista*

            It is truly the most baffling thing of all! Like even without COVID… without any illnesses… fresh air versus stuffy office air… I mean, I prefer fresh but maybe I’m the weirdo!

            1. A person in retail*

              I don’t do it as much as I’d like because allergies, but it doesn’t sound like that’s these people’s issue.

              1. DJ Abbott*

                Me too, I love fresh air. Even though I have allergies, there have been times when it made the biggest difference in taking away a headache and perking me up.

      3. NotRealAnonForThis*

        My gut on this is that its a “USA, then regional, then your industry” thing.

        There’s even within departments for me. My department is far more “take precautions because I have no idea whether this is seasonal allergies or an upper respiratory infection so I’m just going to WFH today” while there’s another department here who feels that they’ll lose an important piece of anatomy (or something, given their collection reaction) if they don’t drag themselves in while being clearly ill (vomiting, coughing fits to match the 1800 consumption stereotype, admitting to having a fever over 102*F) even with the ability granted to WFH. There’s really no obvious demographic differences between the two departments either. Personalities, yes.

        1. ferrina*

          Yeah, it can definitely be department specific. Anyone who works in my department takes care of the health issues, and if they attempt to come in sick they will get a talking to either from me (manager) or from the department head. I’ve worked other places where people practically brag about how sick they are and how they still showed up.

          I will forever hate my coworker who came to a conference while sick and got me hideously sick while I was working the conference. Nothing like having a 102 fever and having to desperately coordinate everything via email (still working 14-hour conference days) while in a tiny, dark hotel room.

          1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

            Yeah like I got the flu from a colleague who came in because their deadline couldn’t get pushed back. The boss phoned me to ask where my sick note was and pointedly said “but Julie came in sick”. Yes, that’s why I’m sick, and my daughter too now.

            Joke was on him though, because the doctor asked if I was under undue stress, so I told her I’d just been on the phone to the boss. She’d already written up the sick note for a week, as per usual for the flu, but she tore it up and wrote out another one for two weeks, just to show him.

      4. Retired Accountant*

        I think people are more likely to stay home/work from home with a cold than pre pandemic. I think people are more likely to be upset with people coming to work with a cold than pre pandemic, but there will always be people who come to work with a cold.

        I don’t think people are more likely to send their sick kids to school or daycare out of an F the government mentality, but they may have fewer child care options than pre pandemic. I think this letter is much more an outlier situation than the norm.

        1. Andrea*

          My experience has actually been the opposite. I work in a conservative (manufacturing) industry in a very conservative area, and “staying home when mildly sick” is viewed as a combination of “valuing your health over the company’s financial goals” and “considering if your own actions might harm someone else”, both of which are seen as “liberal” actions. I’ve been met with a LOT of hostility when I’ve stayed home or worn a mask when I’m not feeling well.

        2. Patty B*

          >they may have fewer child care options than pre pandemic.

          Strep is particularly contagious. I’m more concerned with the other employees (plural) who might have to miss days of work and can’t afford to than I am about one person possibly struggling to find daycare to prevent those illnesses.

          1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

            I’m deceptively endangered by Strep – because due to allergies I can’t take the primary and secondary class of antibiotics that we use to treat strep. If I was aware of what Karen was planning – I’d be going to HR (if I trusted them) and telling them due to Karen’s plan to bring her kid with strep to this “bring your kid to work day” even I will need to take a preventative sick day (maybe two) to ensure that I don’t get dangerously sick and suffer adverse reactions. Even more effective if I was a major part of the bring your kid to work day events.

            But bottom line – I’m not going to let Karen deliberately expose me to strep – even if with all the sympathy in the world she has no other option. And bring your kid to work isn’t the same as “kiddo is sick and company won’t let me telework,” it’s not even close.

              1. Former_Employee*

                That’s how you end up with rheumatic fever, which can lead to permanent heart damage.

      5. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Lots will depend on what part of the US you mean…. but even in blue Connecticut I’m all too aware that I’m a minority wearing a mask during hay fever season. Sure it’s probably my allergies, but I can’t guarantee it.

    3. Em*

      Yes to all of this! Plus… I’ve had mono, and I’ve had strep, and both are unpleasant. Having them together sounds like it would be unreasonable to be anywhere but bed. How is this kid supposed to make it through the day??? What a bizarre choice.

      1. BubbleTea*

        My toddler has been hospitalised three times by “minor illnesses” and he’s not yet two. No diagnosed underlying health conditions either, he’s just been really badly hit. I’d be incandescent if someone knew they were exposing him, or me, to something contagious and just waved it off as unimportant.

      2. Miette*

        …Not to mention how amazingly contagious some strep varieties can be. I am horrified, honestly, that this mom is so cavalier about other children’s safety.

        1. A Poster Has No Name*

          Right? And the boss! Not caring about the health & safety of employees (and their kids) is not always something you can expect from a boss, but you’d think they’d at least care about the hit to the company if the event becomes ground zero for a strep outbreak.

        2. ferrina*

          Strep is one of those “it depends” for contagious levels. Untreated strep- highly contagious. But once you’re on anti-biotics for a day or two, the doctor usually clears you to be in public again. But I’m with you, this mom is horrifyingly cavalier!

          It should go without saying, but:

          1. Bunny Lake Is Found*

            But “treated” strep means completing the entire course of antibiotics, which only a fraction of those with strep actually do. Lots of people just stop taking the medicine once they feel better for a week or so. So there are people walking around who believe they have “treated” their strep, but in reality have only batted it back and it can re-emerge and in that re-emergence it will once again be super contagious.

            Strep is a minor thing unless it isn’t. And when it isn’t, it is bad, bad news.

            I usually try to avoid being scorched earth, but in this case I would feel I have an ethical obligation to inform every employee that one of their co-workers was knowingly planning on exposing their co-workers’ children to two highly contagious diseases, diseases that could be fatal for another child to contract.

            1. constant_craving*

              I am not a doctor, but when I’ve been treated by doctors for strep I’ve always been told that I’m no longer contagious after 48 hours of antibiotics. Not finishing a course of medication is hugely problematic for antibiotic-resistance-related issues of course, but someone who has been on meds a few days would not typically be considered contagious.

              This situation is still outrageously bad.

      3. HigherEdAdminista*

        COVID also taught my that some parents don’t so much care about their kids health or safety. It sounds ghoulish to say that, but I saw it so much in the conversation around schools.

        Even when schools reopened in my area, most parents chose online learning for their kids because kids were getting sick in schools and there was no vaccine or anything for them at this time. However, when schools were closed there was a group of parents from one of the wealthiest areas who were constantly trying to get on the news to scream about a school closed due to an outbreak or a staff shortage. These weren’t parents with zero resources who were struggling to figure out what to do; many of them seemed to be parents of high school students, who could conceivably be left home if the parents had to go out for a bit. They just didn’t want the kids at home.

        My friend who is a teacher in a wealthy district high school said that she frequently has kids sent in who are too ill to even stay awake, but when you tell them you want to call home they report that their parents were aware of their illness and told them they weren’t staying home.

        It sounds like Karen could easily be one of these moms. For whatever reason (social media points/fitting in with colleagues/her own feelings about wanting her kid to participate) this child’s well-being or comfort really isn’t on her radar as being important.

        1. Cyndi*

          I was working in sports retail when Covid originally hit, and by November I had to bail because I was just so angry, every minute I was at work, over how the parents who had more money and ambition-by-proxy than sense, or decency, were carting their kids around to all the neighboring states every weekend to play indoor sports that were still shut down in our own state. Meanwhile kids with decent parents (or who couldn’t afford to do that kind of constant interstate travel) got pulled out. And youth sports is so aggressively competitive these days that even if you pull a young child out for a year or two for Covid safety reasons, they may never be able to “catch up” with the kids who stayed and play seriously ever again. It was terrible for everyone involved, on every level.

      4. learnedthehardway*

        Same here – I’ve had mono, strep, and illnesses where my immunity was compromised by treatment. I would be enraged if someone knowingly brought infectious diseases like mono or strep (or COVID or anything else, quite frankly) into my workplace.

      5. ErinWV*

        That’s what I thought! I got strep constantly as a child. It is not fun. Even taking out of the equation how awful this could be for all the people in the office and all the other kids taking part, Karen’s kid is going to have an absolutely rotten day, getting dragged around to activities while feeling like crap.

      6. Ghostlight*

        Mono and strep are also really common confections. My mono was actually caught because I went to the doctor for a sore and icky throat. The throat infection was cleared up with antibiotics pretty quickly, but I had mono symptoms for a long time. (In bed for a couple weeks and then I was barely making it through work without a nap for about 2 months… and I did nap at work once or twice.)

        With Karen saying that the kid has both strep and mono, that makes me think that the mono infection is also pretty new which means that even if the strep is “safe” because the kid has been on antibiotics for over 24 hours, mono is still a big risk and at its most contagious.

        I also had mono right after college graduation and have no idea how I got it. None of my friends (who I was definitely sharing drinks, etc with) had it and I definitely wasn’t kissing anyone either.

        I’d be livid if a colleague was going to expose the office to this kid and I’d be out that day if possible and I would definitely go over my boss’ head for such a major safety risk.

    4. Smiley*

      While I don’t think it’s worth the risk, it is worth noting that mono is highly unlikely to spread to anyone in this kind of situation. Mono is typically spread through bodily fluids like saliva, hence being called the ‘kissing disease’, so unless this kid is making out with the immunocompromised people in the office, then the chances of them getting mono are extremely low. The strep is another issue though as that can spread through droplets.

      1. Sumifs*

        Mono can spread through droplets, it’s just not as contagious as the flu. I had it last year and my doctor told me to mask everywhere I went because I could spread it to other people as long as I was symptomatic.

        And ftr, mono is not something to mess with. My case was severe enough to put me in the hospital even though I’m not immunocompromised and Epstein-Barr is thought to cause chronic fatigue syndrome and a couple hundred thousand cases of lymphoma every year.

        1. Pointy's in the North Tower*

          Word. My college boyfriend gave me mono for Christmas. I fully recovered in about three weeks (very mild case). He was sick for months and now is fully disabled due to ME/CFS.

          Same virus, and I’m the one who had multiple health issues prior to getting mono.

        2. JB*

          Yes! I had mono as a college student and was sick for 2 months. I’m in my 40s and still dealing with immune system issues from it. Like most other things, YMMV. Just because someone had it and it wasn’t a big deal doesn’t mean it’s not a big deal for anyone/everyone else.

        3. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          It took me more than a year to recover from mono in college. I was functioning after weeks/months but extreme fatigue followed me for a long time. This is why i still take a lot of steps to avoid Covid — having been through “long mono”, long Covid scares me.

        4. Lydia*

          It’s one of those less contagious than, but still pretty contagious, diseases. Sawbones did an episode on it recently.

        5. Nesprin*

          Not to mention that Epstein-Barr infection now is believed to be involved in development of multiple sclerosis.

      2. mlem*

        I caught mono in college, from a dorm-mate who cried copiously while unburdening her soul. I certainly never kissed her. I would not be remotely surprised if a sick kid cried a lot, wiped her tear-streaked face with her hands, and then touched other people or surfaces.

        1. H2*

          Well… especially in kids, mono =\= symptomatic necessarily. After the first bit, people are still considered to have mono (in that they can’t participate in sports and whatever) but are otherwise cleared for being in public. A quick google search says the most contagious period is while the person is symptomatic (and it’s worth noting that most adults have been exposed to EBV and it’s possible that people who have had mono can be contagious months and even years later—it stays in your system, which is why there’s no real point in quarantine). If the child is symptomatic they should definitely not come, and if they’re not, masking would be very smart and considerate, but the science doesn’t really call for quarantine.

          With strep, the child would be on antibiotics for well over 24 hours (Tuesday to Thursday) so would also be cleared by a doctor for return to public.

          We could argue that this event isn’t important enough to risk it, sure, but very likely this person is completely following CDC and her doctor’s guidelines.

      3. Keymaster of Gozer*

        Mono, aka Epstein Barr, isn’t just spread by kissing. It can be spread by droplets of saliva and while it doesn’t hang in the air as long as say Covid or measles it does have some quite good stability outside the body.

        An infected kid with saliva on their hands could easily spread it around the office.

        1. Nina*

          It’s called glandular fever in some other countries fwiw, had to google ‘mono’ the first time I heard it in a US book.

      4. Michelle Smith*

        Kids are notoriously bad at keeping clean hands and keeping their bodily fluids/germs to themselves. Because they’re, you know, children. If you actually look it up, “kissing disease” is described as misleading, because it can be passed through plenty of other ways, including touching infected objects (like if little Johnny wipes his mouth with his hand and touches a doorknob) or being exposed to the virus through coughs and sneezes, which kids are notoriously bad at covering their mouths for and washing their hands after.

        1. ferrina*

          Mono is often spread by sharing food or drink- something kids are notorious for doing. Or sneezing on food or drink. And there’s the classic sneeze-into-your-hand-then-touch-someone.
          If a disease is spread through droplets, kids can and will find every vector to spread it.

          Signed, Someone Who Has Worked In Every Age of Education

      5. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        So how did the child get mono in the first place? I’m assuming not by making out with anyone.

      6. EPLawyer*

        She has strep AND mono. If the kid coughs, she is spreading it everywhere.
        Karen already knows that at least one coworker has a condition that could make exposure dangerous. Karen is still playing the victim. Karen doesn’t care.

      7. Ann*

        Kids aren’t great hand-washers though. And mono and strep are both nasty enough if you catch them, that I’m stunned by everyone’s behavior here. The mom who seems to think that would be a fun outing for her sick and miserable kid? The boss who doesn’t see a problem with it? Just yikes. It would be bad enough if this was a sick time policy problem, but it doesn’t even seem to be that. The mom just doesn’t *want* to keep the child at home.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I would have been stunned before reading a study a few months back about how many parents admitted to lying about their kids’ exposure to and symptoms of COVID so they could send them to school and activities.

    5. Llama Llama*

      People were terrible before though. I had someone working for me that was immunocompromised and I was hyper focused on people coming in sick to protect him. People did all the time. I sent someone home with strep. It got to the point that he worked from home.

      Now people go ‘Its not COVID so it’s fine to come in with this other highly infectious disease’

      1. reg*

        “and if it is covid… we’re just not gonna test so who’s to say, really?”

      2. Nonprofit writer*

        Yes, people before were just as oblivious. In 2019 we traveled from NY to Ohio for a family wedding, and as soon as we got home we were leaving the next day for a long-planned beach vacation. At the wedding, my husband’s aunt remarked casually to me that she was glad her grandson (who lives with her) was feeling better, since he’d been throwing up & had a fever that morning. He was running around in a big pack with my kids. I was horrified.

        No surprise, this was the same aunt who refused to get vaxxed for Covid (won’t get into her reasons here) and coughed & sneezed all over my immunocompromised FIL at another event in 2021. Luckily it was just a cold but he did get sick & we were all pretty pissed.

      3. footiepjs*

        This drewtoothpaste tweet is so frustratingly accurate: “it’s just a flu” oh well i dont want that either thank you

        1. Lydia*

          H1N1 was “just” a flu, too, and I had it, and I had never been so sick ever. I left that experience with asthma. There is no such thing as “just a flu,” especially if you’re vulnerable.

      4. laser99*

        People are, indeed, miserable shitheels. I would never argue otherwise. However, people do this in part because they can’t afford to take time off, not because they are eager to spread cooties around.

    6. Dust Bunny*

      Nah, parents have always done that. Most kids who got perfect attendance awards were sent to school sick at some point, and I’ve totally had coworkers bring sick kids to work long before COVID. Anything we should have learned from COVID we should have learned from all the other diseases out there first, so I don’t know why anyone is surprised.

      1. NotRealAnonForThis*

        It did, however, reinforce that if you make it completely on the individual and provide zero societal support to “do the right thing”, not many are going to do so.

        If my child tests positive for Covid currently:
        They’re out of school for a certain number of days
        There’s certain documentation that I’ll need to provide and to get this I’ll have to locate testing facilities etc.
        Their teacher *might* upload all work that will be handled during that certain time frame, its an option teachers have been given but its not required at this point in time.
        Their sibling may also be out a certain number of days
        If I’m being honest and tell my employer, I’m out a certain number of days as well. And if I actually get Covid and feel unwell to the point where I can’t work remotely? It comes out of my PTO instead of being separate Covid leave (unlike my first go-round with it)
        My spouse is going to have similar “out a certain number of days” etc.

        Given all of this? While trying to just get through an ordinary day in the USA? We just try like heck to stay healthy, make sure we do what mitigation we can (vaccination and hygiene), and hope that nobody gets sick enough that we get thrown into a two month tailspin (again, we’ve done this before remember, twice, actually) but this time without any societal supports to help keep the actual long term damage to a complete minimum.

        And let me re-iterate: it sucks to have to be even considering any of this because it weighs heavy on the “but as a society we need to X, Y, and Z” that is definitely more my line of normal thought. I don’t like it. I wish it wasn’t something that had to be considered.

      2. Observer*

        Anything we should have learned from COVID we should have learned from all the other diseases out there first, so I don’t know why anyone is surprised.


        Most kids who got perfect attendance awards were sent to school sick at some point,

        Of course. What’s even worse is school policies that penalize kids who stay home when sick. And, worse, even penalizing kids who have a doctor’s note, which takes away the excuse of “it’s to keep kids from pretending to be sick.”

    7. NothingIsLittle*

      I’m immune compromised, so you can bet your *beep* that I would have made her coming in everyone’s problem. It’s different when it’s coworkers or when the situation requires it (lack of childcare, for example) and my coworkers are polite enough to mask if they have to come in sick without being asked. My condition is covered by ADA if I ever needed to fall back on that, but it’s so obviously unkind to put sick/disabled people at risk that it’s never gotten to that point.

      Your sick child will not enjoy going to work with you because they’re sick. Your coworkers and their children will not enjoy meeting your child because they are sick. You will not enjoy bringing your child into work unless you’re a raging narcissist because caring for sick children is unpleasant. Who wins other than your ego, Karen?

    8. House On The Rock*

      I agree that there’s more weirdness and, perhaps, arrogance around illness for some now. But for what it’s worth I’ve seen people bring sick kids to offices my whole 25+ year career. My spouse used to work for a textbook example of “dysfunctional family business” where the whole family brought in their sick children and he and other non-family members were expected to interact with them. There was a several month period where he was fighting off a horrible strain of pink eye he got from one such toddler. Of course this place also gave almost no PTO so he was working with it. Bottom line is selfish people gonna selfish, alas.

      1. Moonstone*

        So true about selfish people! My husband is a barber and it’s unbelievable, but sadly unsurprising, the number of parents who bring their sick kids in for a haircut. The kid is too sick for school but the parents think nothing of bringing them in to infect his shop. It’s absolutely infuriating and utterly selfish.

    9. goddessoftransitory*

      The second I read that headline I started saying NO NO NO NO NO NO out loud! What on earth was this woman thinking??? Setting aside everything else, it’s a terrible idea for a child that ill to be anywhere but home! How can they sleep or even relax in a strange environement with dozens and dozens of strange adults and kids running around?

  4. Heidi*

    Interesting about Letter 4. Elementary school felt like the only time in my life where those kinds of spelling and grammar errors were consistently pointed out and corrected by my teachers. If our principal had mixed up there/their/they’re, we would have had a whole class discussion about it. Maybe we’re more chill now.

      1. SereneScientist*

        This is an incredibly aggressive comment for no reason, and frankly your name is little better than “Grammar Nazi.” Please stop.

        1. ADidgeridooForYou*

          I’d argue not better at all. I studied Russian in college, and the number of people who would jokingly wear a Stalin t-shirt to class (or the group who formed a Russian Department soccer team and made their t-shirt have a graphic of Stalin kicking a soccer ball) was abhorrent. Stalin killed millions and millions of people. Not sure why we as a society feel ok joking about him.

          Sorry, this doesn’t have to do with the post, but it’s an annoyance of mine, haha.

          1. Observer*

            Yeah, the fact that he was a touch better than Hitler isn’t exactly a pass, nor does it mean that he was a sane and decent human being. It doesn’t even mean that he wasn’t a monster.

            1. ADidgeridooForYou*

              Yup. Technically the guy killed more people than Hitler. Definitely won’t get into a debate about who was “worse” or “better,” since I don’t think it even matters – they’re both atrocious humans who caused immense suffering and should not be venerated in any way.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      Neither of my teenagers did spelling in early elementary school. They were encouraged to sound things out, but spelling errors were not corrected until probably 5th/6th grade (and they never had formal spelling lessons – we had a textbook for spelling back in the dark ages when I was in school and a weekly test). One is also in an accelerated academics program, and they got much more spelling/grammar instruction than my child in the general education program.

      I work in an industry where spelling and grammar matters, so I would absolutely point it out to my boss before someone higher up the food chain (or, god forbid, a client) did.

  5. They Don’t Make Sunday*

    “…teenage me took extreme pleasure in marking up his communications with red pen and leaving them in his office in-box.”

    Somehow, I’m not surprised at all and also I love it.

    1. korangeen*

      I laughed out loud at that part. It sounds like something I would have done if I had the guts.

    2. KateM*

      “Fortunately your students aren’t at that age yet.”
      Surely that had to be “UNfortunately”?

      1. MeepMeep123*

        And is OP sure they’re not at that age? I was a very enthusiastic spotter of typos and spelling errors when I was 7. My daughter is the same way, and her teacher actually gives the class “proofreading” assignments.

    3. Inkhorn*

      I did the same thing in uni with exam papers, if I had a little time at the end and there were typos in the questions.

    4. Katie Impact*

      Around grades 5-6 of primary school, I used to point out typos in the school newsletter every week, until the teacher started sending me to the principal’s office to preview it before it was printed out and distributed. I saw this as a reward rather than a punishment. No surprise that I now work in digital media publishing in a role that’s heavy on proofreading and editing, I guess.

      1. ferrina*

        That’s amazing! And brilliant for the teacher- that’s such a good way to take care of two things at once.

    5. Some Internet Rando*

      I also laughed out loud. I think “high school you” and “high school me” would have gotten along well!!!!

      1. I have RBF*

        Ditto. I actually worked on my high school paper – I did mostly layout because covering sports was boring. Yes, I did proofreading too.

        1. MigraineMonth*

          The only thing I remember from my time working on the school paper was getting into an argument with the teacher because I used the singular “they” in my articles and they said it wasn’t correct.

    6. I should really pick a name*

      The more I learn about young Alison, the more awesome I think she is.

    7. All Het Up About It*

      This one sentence might succeed in turning my bad mood around today!

    8. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      My grandmother used to write up grammar edits to her reverend after sermons :|

    9. Reading a good book*

      “…teenage me took extreme pleasure in marking up his communications with red pen and leaving them in his office in-box.”

      Alison, we need an update. What happened then? Did he find out it was you?

  6. Talula Does The Hula From Hawaii*

    My high school principal used to do the same thing, and teenage me took extreme pleasure in marking up his communications with red pen and leaving them in his office in-box. Fortunately your students aren’t at that age yet.

    I feel like we need more young Alison anecdotes.

    1. Skeezix*

      Back in the 90’s, my teacher mom was becoming frustrated with the poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation she was seeing in the local weekly paper. I will NEVER forget the New Year’s Day she took her Red Pen (THE Red Pen) out of her school bag, cleared off the kitchen table, made some tea, and edited the ENTIRE PAPER (it was an End of Year special edition, so larger than the usual edition). She used all the formal editing swoops and swirls and markings. When the task was complete, it was folded back up and hand delivered it to the office in town the next day they were open.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Some people want to get a part-time retirement job at a hobby shop or craft store or theater… I want to go back to a local newspaper and clean all that up.

      2. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        As the daughter of a native English-speaker in France, my daughter was unbearably unforgiving of any mistakes in English and thought nothing of pointing mistakes out in front of the whole class. The teacher actually called me in for a meeting to say she had to tone it down. And also discreetly checked a couple of points with me, I confirmed that my teenage daughter’s level of English was not as good as the teacher’s, even if she was way above the level of the class in general.

    2. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      I have a working title: “Adventures of Adolescent Alison”

      1. BatManDan*

        well, keep in mind that no actually has to have any grounds for a lawsuit, in order to file one. Now, you have to have reasonable grounds to WIN a lawsuit. But not to file one. LW could possibly let it slip to one/a few coworkers about kid’s health status – I’m sure at least one of them would become, as someone said above, “incandescent” and would raise a ruckus and shame the parent of the sick kid into taking the kid home.

        1. lucanus cervus*

          In the world outside the TV, ordinary people just trying to get through their day do not have the energy or resources to file lawsuits over this sort of thing.

      2. ferrina*

        I think there was a Law & Order episode with this plot. The charge was “reckless endangerment” because the parent knowingly put a sick kid in a position where there was a very high probability of other people getting severely ill.

        But it’s probably best not to base your life on Law & Order episodes.

    1. Daisy*

      No, you couldn’t prove you got sick from that particular kid and not from one of the other 450 kids there that day, or a coworker, or the grocery store you stopped at on the way home. Was it likely that kid got you sick, yes. But prooving that particular child/parent permanently altered your life and caused significant monetary harm to your ability to earn money in the future is unlikely to go far. Any lawyer worth their salt would turn down a case like that.

      1. Curious*

        while I think you’re right wrt a negligence claim against the parent, I wonder, if you get sick, whether you could sustain a workers compensation claim?

    2. SB*

      I am not in the USA so the law here is different (shocker, not everyone lives in the US & the laws around the world are different to yours, amazing, I know). Precedent was set during covid where people knowingly went out while covid positive & were sued for it.

      1. Nancy*

        Bu then it would behoove you to mention you’re not talking about US laws when you make a comment like that on a site with a largely American audience rather than snarking about it after the fact.

  7. Ohno*

    I have lupus and people like that colleague make my life so fluffing miserable sometimes.

    1. AnonyAdmin*

      Crohn’s sufferer here, I feel your pain and what’s worse is when people brag about coming to work sick (‘I’m not feeling well but I’m still here!’) or describing in excruciating detail how sick their child is. Stay the fluff home! Last time someone came in with a cold I caught it and it turned into a nasty sinus infection so keep it to yourselves, people!

      1. StellaBella*

        yeah I would work from home if this lady came in with her very sick kid if possible. To me the comments here on how people are going backwards in terms of stuff like this ring true and I am not in the USA even. My Director does this a lot and when she shows up ill if I am in office I do leave.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          This was my thought, too. Option 1 is trying to escalate this to someone with power over the LW’s supervisor who isn’t ridiculous. Option 2 is to find a way to miss that day.

        2. JustaTech*

          I’m WFH this week because my VP and director are in office with COVID and I *know* they’re terrible maskers.

          It’s so infuriating.

      2. T*

        This!! Coming in sick is not a badge of honor. Not taking your vacation doesn’t tell me you’re a hard worker. Criticizing people who take their pto makes you an @$$. Certain things you have to push through. I go in with migraines and allergies because I wouldn’t have a job if I didn’t and a lot of people with chronic illness go to work suffering but people need to stop thinking that not using pto makes them better than the people who do.

        1. ferrina*

          Yes!! One more time for the people in the back!

          Coming in sick is not a badge of honor. Not taking your vacation doesn’t tell me you’re a hard worker. Criticizing people who take their pto makes you an @$$.

      3. NotRealAnonForThis*

        And these are all examples of why I’ll opt to WFH if I’m unsure, and I why I have zero qualms about calling my smaller-than-me-humans out if they’re displaying questionable symptoms (or behaviors that tend to align with them feeling ill).

        I once became absolutely apoplectic when a coworker showed up for work with a diagnosis of whooping cough and obvious symptoms. I had just come back from my standard USA maternity leave, so my (oldest but at that point only) child was under two months of age. This was *just* before they started recommending pregnant women get a tdap booster in order to provide additional protection to newborns, for time reference (my kids are quite close in age, and I was offered a booster with kid 2 and my ob mentioned it was a new recommendation, but not kid 1). I shared an office space with this clown.

        The bosses decided it was far better for my coworker to work from home during his illness than to expose the entire office (which included not just me, but several others who may have had their own sets of risk factors).

    2. Beth*

      I’d have called out sick that day, due to being sick of my co-irker’s awfulness.

    3. Keymaster of Gozer*

      Autoimmune disease sufferer and ex virologist here. I don’t want to come across the things I used to study in a nice controlled laboratory out in the wild.

      Especially since there’s no vaccine or treatment for EBV.

    4. Bunny Lake Is Found*

      Immune compromised myself and I have only ever gone into the office sick when I was recovering from food poisoning or horrible sinus pain from allergies. If what I have no one can catch, then I get to make the call if I am sick enough to need to be home…if it’s something someone else could catch then nope, my butt needs to be in my home office, not breathing on my co-workers, even if I believe I could “tough it out”.

  8. Mrs. Hawiggins*

    “Hi, my kid has a billion bacterial things that will keep him out of school on the SAME DAY we’ve determined it’s take your kid to work day.”

    Good Lordt.

    The last time I was around “take your kid to work day,” the kid said his teacher told him to ask me how much I made an hour. When I explained the inappropriateness to him he said, “You HAVE to tell me or I’ll get an F for the day.”

    “Dude, I love ya, and your dad, but this is one you’re gonna have to accept cannot be given out to you. Accept the F and tell your teacher I don’t owe her this answer because her school is ill prepared for 3/4 of the student body out that day.”

    We did NOT have bring your kid to work day after that ever again.

      1. Other Alice*

        No, some teachers truly are awful. I’ve heard of assignments where the kids have to write to their favourite author and ask them questions. I follow a few kids’ authors in social media and every once in a while someone posts to please don’t make it mandatory for the child to get an answer in order to get a passing grade, because the author is very busy and might not get to every letter in a timely manner.

        1. BatManDan*

          Fun story – had to be about 10th grade, was asked to write about one living author and one dead one. I figured I’d get extra points if I got some quotes from the living author (and I had a few questions for him, too – he was my favorite). Fortunately, I had plenty of time; I wrote to him at his publisher’s address (this was in 1982 – how did I even find it? I don’t know!) and asked him to call me collect, if he needed to, in the evenings so I could interview him. He DID! It was ah-mazing! Wish I still had that paper! Patrick F. McManus, for those of you that may be wondering.

          1. Michelle Smith*

            I love stories like this! It’s nice to hear about some good people doing kind things for a change.

            RIP Mr. McManus.

            1. starsaphire*

              Well, it could have been Sneed, masquerading as Mr. McManus. After all, Sneed is everywhere… ;)

          2. Anonymous cat*

            That is such a cool story!

            I would guess the address was on the copyright page.
            Or if you were reading library books, the librarian would know where to look.

        2. Fishsticks*

          As a very literal child, I got into a surprisingly vehement argument with a teacher about that assignment, because my favorite author (Anna Sewell) had been dead since 1878. How could I write to my favorite author if she had been dead for greater than a century?! It made no sense!!

          My poor teacher had to calm me down enough to explain that it didn’t actually have to be my FAVORITE author, just any author at all would be fine.

          1. Clorinda*

            Well, why couldn’t you write a letter to Anna Sewell. even if she couldn’t answer? Surely the point of the assignment is what kind of letter the student writes, not was this student lucky enough to pick an author who would write back?

            1. Not my real name*

              My sister had to do this assignment and she had not realized that her favorite author had passed away. She got a lovely letter from his publisher though.

        3. Clown Eradicator*

          In high school we had to write a paper on an author. I chose my favorite author at the time – Poppy Z Brite (now Billy Martin). I even had a phone interview lined up with him. During the project, our teacher left and a sub was brought in. She never heard of the author so deemed it unacceptable and made me choose another. But the time we had our new perm teacher, it was too late to switch back and she was furious at the sub. This was 22 years ago and I’m still salty.

          1. King Friday XIII*

            I’m salty on your behalf as someone who spent a lot of time reading ridiculous vampire books in high school, that sounds like an amazing opportunity and your sub was ridiculous.

      2. Irish Teacher*

        I’d say there’s about a 0% chance that a teacher said, “if you don’t find out this specific person’s hourly rate, I will fail you.” It’s possible they were asked to get information about the company, including pay, hours worked, what qualifications are needed, how many people work there, etc (because as somebody said below, there ARE teachers who don’t think things like that true and might make a kid’s grade dependent on information from others) but even then, a) they could presumably ask somebody else, including their father or take a guess, if it were something like “what does the boss earn?” (get an estimate from the father and base a guess on it) and b) missing one piece of information would hardly mean an F. If they had five questions to answer or a report to write including five pieces of information, then missing the salary would mean 80% in the first case and honestly, probably wouldn’t even register in the latter.

        I could imagine a kid taking “write a report about your visit, including how much people there get paid, how many hours people work, how many people are working there, etc” to mean “I’ll fail if I don’t get all this information,” but it’s unlikely to actually be true.

        And honestly, while those things do happen (whereas I doubt, “get x’s salary or you fail” does), in this case, I suspect even they are unlikely, because in that case, I’d imagine the kid would begin with something like “I need to ask you some questions about your job,” not just “what’s your salary?” The latter sounds exactly like something a couple of really cheeky students I’ve had would do and following up with “then it will be your fault if I fail” would be fairly typical of the same students.

        1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

          I dunno, my grade 9 gym teacher threatened to fail me in the weight room unit if I didn’t fully participate, even though I’d gotten tendinitis in one of my wrists and could barely feed myself. Some teachers are huge jerks.

          1. Totally Minnie*

            My grade 9 gym teacher tried to give me an F for the whole semester because I didn’t run a mile during the final exam. I was on crutches at the time.

            1. Seeking Second Childhood*

              I’ve mentioned before about the friend whose gym teacher refused to accept a Dr’s note, forced him to participate or be failed (which would risk his graduation), thus triggering the predicted epic nosebleed. Teacher got blasted by nurse & admin. Luckily it was BEFORE the sinus surgery not after so no permanent harm done except the teacher’s clothing.

              Such instant karma is a thing of beauty.

              I’m sorry you had a similar jerk PE teacher!

              1. Kyrielle*

                There are lots of perfectly good gym teachers, but the bad ones all stand out so much. *facepalms* I had one in middle school who refused to let me carry my asthma inhaler during class.

                Including outdoor sports, including running/walking a mile on a quarter-mile dirt track that had a stand of scotch broom (to which I was very allergic) at one end.

                That didn’t last very long. I told my mother and she went straight to the principal. She was furious. (And probably terrified, since by that point I’d been hospitalized once by an allergy-triggered asthma attack.)

                I still had to go outside and be on the track, which didn’t please middle-school me who’d rather have been excused, but I got to carry my rescue inhaler while doing it instead of leaving it back in the school building.

        2. Observer*

          I’d say there’s about a 0% chance that a teacher said, “if you don’t find out this specific person’s hourly rate, I will fail you.”

          I’m kind of stunned that any teacher can say that. There are absolutely teachers who make demands that ridiculous. And because it’s the kind of question a lot of kids are NOT going to want to ask, that kind of teacher is likely to do something like:

          You nee to ask X, Y and Z. Also, A B and C. A, B and C are absolutely mandatory and if you leave any of those out, it’s an automatic fail.

    1. wanda*

      Not discussing salary is a Western cultural norm- in other cultures, everyone talks about it. It is also a norm that harms efforts to improve worker conditions.

      It is a good thing for children to know how much money things cost and how much money various professions make so they can plan their own futures. The whole point of “bring your kid to work” day is to see adults working and to make them think about the work they want to do someday, so thinking about salaries is not really out of line.

      My own salary is published for anyone to see on the Internet, as I employed at a public university, so yes, I walk this talk.

      I see why you were shocked, but I think you were really unkind to the kid.

      1. bamcheeks*

        Yeah, I’m surprised at the strength of the reaction too. It seems like a really useful exercise for the students!

        And if the knowledge that some people in the class have parents earning $150 p/h and some people have parents earning $15 is likely to cause problems — maybe the problem isn’t the knowledge but the facts?

        1. BubbleTea*

          It doesn’t sound like the child was asking their own parent though, just a colleague in the office. Surely a teacher didn’t set the task “ask your parents’ colleagues how much they earn”?

          1. bamcheeks*

            ahh OK, yeah, I was reading it as Mrs Hawiggins was the kid’s mum talking to her own son, not a colleague of the kid’s dad!

        2. DogsInPJsAreMyFavorite*

          fair enough, I guess, but I wouldn’t want to explain that to my kid who was now getting bullied for being a spoiled brat because now their classmate knows I make more than their parents. or alternatively the kid who gets bullied by asking if everything they own is secondhand if it turns out their parents make less than others.

          idk, I know kids can be bullied over anything, and they don’t even need facts to support it, but I just feel like this one is so easily avoidable. isn’t that part of why some public schools do uniforms, so you can’t tell if someone has new clothes or not?

          1. Grammar Stalinist*

            It is none of the classmate’s business. Sub-OP acted appropriately.

      2. La Revacholiere*

        I understand it as a norm between adults. I would not particularly want to have this conversation with a child that was not my own!

      3. Grammar Stalinist*

        1. This school is presumably in the West, so theee is nothing wrong with observing Western cultural norms about refraining from discussions about salaries.

        2. Even where people do discuss salaries, it is generally between adults who are at least passing acquaintances, not random kids pestering complete strangers for the information.

        1. Beth*

          I think it’s a more important lesson for kids to learn about appropriate topics, instrusive questions, and general rudeness.

          You rock, Mrs. Hawiggins!

      4. I should really pick a name*

        There can definitely be benefits to sharing salaries, but that’s an opt-in thing.
        Compelling it is a completely different matter.

      5. Irish Teacher*

        I think there’s a difference though between adults discussing salaries or telling a child the general rate a job would pay and a child coming up to an adult and asking “how much do you earn an hour? You have to tell me or I’ll get an F.”

        I may be somewhat biased here because I have had one or two students with extremely poor boundary issues, one in particular who never specifically asked that but would ask all kinds of questions that weren’t necessarily private or anything but the way in which he asked them, the number of them and the attitude that he was entitled to an answer made them extremely inappropriate. In his case, I think it was partly that he was trying to be really grown up and assumed adult talk about “boring stuff like money” so the way to seem adult was to go around asking adults what their possessions cost or similar questions.

        It needed to be shut down, not because the questions were things that shouldn’t be discussed (and I agree salary should) but because there are ways of asking things. Many of the questions that student asked, I have answered from other students, because those students asked in conversation, whereas this student was firing questions at me to try and show off to his friends that “I know x about the teacher.”

        It really is not appropriate to tell somebody “you HAVE to tell me” something personal.

        If a child asked me “could I ask you some questions about your job for a project for school?” I probably wouldn’t have a problem telling them my hourly rate. If a child told me “you HAVE to tell me, so I don’t fail,” I probably wouldn’t. That isn’t an appropriate way to ask for a favour.

        1. A Shrimp*

          It’s extremely manipulative and I don’t like the idea of kids learning they can get what they want if they manipulate people. “You have to do what I want or something bad will happen (and you’ll feel bad about it)” is gross.

        2. Observer*

          I think there’s a difference though between adults discussing salaries or telling a child the general rate a job would pay and a child coming up to an adult and asking “how much do you earn an hour? You have to tell me or I’ll get an F.”

          I don’t disagree. But the REAL problem here is “you have to tell me or I’ll get an F.” It’s just never ok to mandate that a student get specific information that they can only get from another person (as opposed to being able to look it up somewhere.)

          It needed to be shut down, not because the questions were things that shouldn’t be discussed (and I agree salary should) but because there are ways of asking things.

          Agreed. That’s a real problem.

      6. Nancy*

        Kids should not be asking strangers their salaries. It is none if their business. The kid’s reaction was also rude.

      7. MCMonkeyBean*

        Yeah, that seems like a very appropriate question for a day literally dedicated to showing your child about your work life. It seems very odd to me to be to be unwilling to share that information in this context??

        1. MCMonkeyBean*

          Sorry I misread–I thought it was the commenter’s kid and I thought it was weird not to be willing to tell your own child how much you make. Much less weird to be unwilling to tell someone else’s kid. I still don’t think it is wildly inappropriate for them to ask but you should certainly be free to decline to answer.

      8. NotAnotherManager!*

        I’m pretty sure none of my children’s teachers are considering a career switch to the entirely different fields that their father and I are employed in, so sharing our salary information with them is not going to have any impact other than satisfying a curiosity. If they want to know my spouse’s salary, there are tons of federal government salary finders online. My job is practically unheard of, if not entirely unique, so I’m not really helpful to anyone.

        Our experience with the kids knowing our salaries is that it sounds like a metric crapton of money to them (they’re jazzed when they get $20 in a birthday card), so they assume we can buy them anything they want. I’m pretty open with our budget because I think financial literacy is important, but the concept of retirement and savings is almost entirely lost on children. Why set aside $X for retirement when you could have a PlayStation NOW? Their brains aren’t developed enough to understand planning that far into the future or that there is no real social safety net in the US for us to rely on.

    2. CommanderBanana*

      I will never forget my former executive director’s little Master of the Universe-in-training son marching into my coworker’s office on take your kid to work day and snottily telling her that his dad was the BOSS and his dad could fire her if he wanted.

      The apple didn’t fall far from that particular tree.

    3. Observer*

      The last time I was around “take your kid to work day,” the kid said his teacher told him to ask me how much I made an hour. When I explained the inappropriateness to him he said,

      What exactly is so inappropriate about the question?

      I’m not talking about the teacher making it MANDATORY, because making rules for people who don’t work for you is stupid and wrong. But the question per se is perfectly reasonable.

      1. Dahlia*

        Because it’s rude to walk up to strangers and ask how much money they make?

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        Might be more the way in which the question is asked. Something like, “What’s the range of salary/wage for your job?” would do better. That’s a bit of nuance most kids won’t have, but can be explicitly taught.

  9. Bilateralrope*

    #2 What do your workplace health and safety laws say about this ?

    If they aren’t helpful, I’d consider dropping an anonymous tip somewhere that will make a lot of noise about this. If you can trust them to keep you anonymous.

    1. tiny*

      Funny timing, I learned yesterday that there were/are OSHA compliance issues around covid, that I would sort of assume were based on a precedent in ALL communicable diseases (if OP is covered by OSHA)

      1. RussianInTexas*

        What would the complaint be? I’m unaware of any OSHA regulation that would violate if it is an office, except for COVID, and even then.
        People have and do come to the office and other work places knowingly sick all the time. I’ve done it.

  10. Emily*

    #2 I’d love to hear your boss’s reasoning for how this is a HIPAA violation (a phrase people love to use, but actually rarely understand). What is being violated here is common sense.

    I do hope there is someone you can talk to who is above your boss who can make your boss see sense.

    1. Stay-at-Homesteader*

      I snerked out loud at “what’s being violated here is common sense.” I will be deploying that in the future, thank you for making my morning a little brighter.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Most people just don’t have any idea what HIPAA actually says and throw it around without knowing what they’re talking about. There’s no reasoning behind it except maybe “I don’t want to maybe get sued” or “I don’t want to deal with this so we’ll lob some HIPAA threats to shut this person down”.

      I’m actually subject to HIPAA restrictions in a few areas of my job, which is distantly heathcare-related, and this situation is not even remotely applicable.

      1. Jay (no, the other one)*

        I’m a doc. In 2021, the manager of my favorite hair salon told me they couldn’t promise me I’d be in a room with only COVID-vaxxed employees because it was a HIPAA violation. I explained that unless they were running a clinic in the back room, HIPAA didn’t apply to them. He said they’d been advised by their lawyers that it did. I told him he needed a new lawyer.

        We eventually agreed that I would be in a room alone with my stylist, who was vaxxed. The convo happened after I overheard another (unmasked) stylist explaining to her client in great detail why she wouldn’t get vaccinated. The private room was totally fine with me.

        1. Heather*

          I’m a nurse and hospitals/managers will also tell you that absolutely everything is a “HIPPA” (I know that isn’t how it spelled) violation.

        2. Emily*

          Yeah I’ve seen “HIPAA violation” thrown around time and time again by people (like in your example) who it in no way applies to, and is just a lazy way not to take basic health measures.

        3. Oui oui oui all the way home*

          Their “lawyer” was probably a random conspiracy theorist with no legal education that they saw on Facebook.

      2. Slow Gin Lizz*

        I would imagine a general rule being that if you haven’t had training about HIPAA and how to avoid HIPAA violations at your workplace, then you are not in a situation where HIPAA violations are a thing you need to worry about. But I guess if you haven’t had HIPAA training (or you are not a regular AAM reader), you wouldn’t know that.

        1. JustaTech*

          Weirdly, I just had HIPAA training last week and my thought was “but I never see identifiable patient data!”.
          On the other hand, it was some of the better presented training that week, so good enough.

          1. Relentlessly Socratic*

            I used t0 have two separate HIPAA trainings/yr. One from my org (I do not handle or see any patient information) and one from my client (I do not handle or see any patient information). Two. Separate. Trainings. One could not take merely one HIPAA training and submit to the two entities (where, and I cannot stress this enough, I do not handle or see any patient information).

      3. Antilles*

        Exactly. In my experience, whenever someone outside the medical field talks about something violating HIPAA, there’s exactly two types of possible reasoning that may be in play:
        1.) My entire knowledge of HIPAA is a vague understanding that it covers medical privacy and some third-hand stories about people getting sued about HIPAA violations.
        2.) I need an excuse to shut you up, so I’m going to loosely say “but HIPAA” as though it’s a magic spell.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          In the case of #2, I find that people have better results if they pronounce it “hip AAH!!”

      4. LW2 - sick kid*

        Original LW here. In speaking with others who our boss spoke to 1:1 we all agreed the HIPAA reference was meant to intimidate and shut us up. And the Slack comment disclosing the health info was not a 2-person conversation, it was a group slack channel so no expectation of privacy.

        1. lazuli*

          Even if it had been a private conversation, HIPAA would not apply unless you were not only a healthcare provider or insurance provider but also THAT co-worker’s healthcare provider or insurance provider.

          I’m a therapist. I have to keep client’s information private. I can gossip about my neighbor’s health condition all I want to. (Which is not at all, but it wouldn’t be a HIPAA violation if I did!)

    3. Foxy Hedgehog*

      The sad fact is that the general public has somehow come to the conclusion that discussing another person’s health in public is against the law.

      It is not, except under very specific circumstances.

    4. 2 Cents*

      How is it a HIPAA violation when the parent shared this piece of info on a Slack channel and the OP said “people here might have these conditions”? (Plus, it’s just not anyway.)

      As a parent, I would be livid if someone knowingly brought their sick kid in. Yes, kids get sick all the time, but there’s a difference between “oh, Reginald came down with something the next day!” and “Oh, Rex has had this cold and I knowingly exposed ALL of you to it.”

    5. A Shrimp*

      It would only be a violation if the kid’s doctor came bursting in like the Spongebob “rev up those fryers” meme saying “Hey! Guess what diseases Karen Jr’s got!”

      Otherwise there’s no rule against saying a colleague plans to bring a kid with multiple contagious diseases in.

    6. All Het Up About It*

      People do NOT understand HIPAA at all.

      I can’t tell you how many times I heard “My company can’t ask if we have the Covid vaccine, because of HIPAA” and I’m like “Nope! That’s not how that works.”

      Then they’d question me like I was an idiot. And while I am not an expert, because I don’t live in that world currently, I do have Data and Records Management degree and certification I did study these things, and their is more to data privacy than HIPAA my friends!

    7. Observer*

      I’d love to hear your boss’s reasoning for how this is a HIPAA violation

      Yeah. That’s just so WEIRD. Like, where does this even come in to the picture?

      I do hope there is someone you can talk to who is above your boss who can make your boss see sense.

      I doubt that that’s possible, because he’s being SOO strange. What I do think is possible is that someone can make him ACT in a reasonable manner. That would be enough.

  11. Kermit’s Bookkeepers*

    LW #3 — at the very least take a sick day instead of taking your kid to work.

  12. Polyhymnia O’Keefe*

    My husband and I worked at the same company until very recently, when I took a new job, and I’m still very close to my former coworkers.

    This week, he accidentally put the cat’s grooming appointment on the central office admin calendar instead of his personal (or even personal work) calendar, both of which are synced to mine, so I would have seen it.

    His boss/my good friend texted me a picture of the office calendar, which was the first I knew of the appointment. We all had a good laugh about it.

    1. GammaGirl1908*

      LW1 should not comment, mostly because it likely just will make Boss wonder why LW is scrutinizing her calendar to that degree. It’s one thing to notice what your boss is doing in her time out of the office; it’s something else entirely to hang on to the information long enough to comment on it five days later. We all spend a lot of time with our colleagues, and their are a lot of life events and issues where you can figure them out or overhear something or see something that wasn’t 100% meant for your eyes and put it into context, but if it wasn’t something intended for your eyes in the first place, and the person doesn’t bring it up with you, then it probably isn’t something that colleague really wants to go out of their way to discuss with you.

      When my supervisor commented on the reason I had blocked off a day, all it did was make me stop keeping that level of information visible on my office calendar. I even had already discussed it with her (I was traveling out of town and had labeled the block “City?” back when I wasn’t certain the trip was on for sure. I mentioned the trip to Boss when I firmed up the travel plans), and it was weird that she later on had noticed the day blocked on my calendar and gone to see why, and commented unprompted on my plans to visit that city. I felt a little weird about it, so from then on, every time I have put something like that on my calendar, I’ve just labeled it Out of Office for everyone else, even if there’s more information that I can see. It made me feel scrutinization, not camaraderie.

      1. Slow Gin Lizz*

        The simple solution to your 2nd paragraph, GammaGirl, would be to make all your personal appointments in your work calendar private and then coworkers would see you had the time blocked off but not what you were doing. I do this all the time, because, for instance, I might want to put the name of the doctor I’m seeing in my calendar but not want coworkers to know which doctor I’m seeing. (Not that I would expect coworkers to care enough to, say, google the doc’s name and therefore find out what kind of medical treatment I’m getting, but you never know.)

        As for asking coworkers about the things in their calendars, well…I suppose if you are truly curious about, as OP asked, the restaurant that you saw in your coworker’s appointment, you could bring it up more casually. “Oh, I saw that you were out around lunchtime last Wed. Were you at a lunch meeting?” or something like that. That being said, it also depends on how well you know the person. If I see in my boss’ calendar something like “[Restaurant],” I actually would feel ok asking her about it, but I work for a small org and we all know a lot about each other’s lives. If it were a coworker that OP doesn’t talk to much or have cause to look at their calendar all the time, it would definitely be weird to ask about their personal appointments.

        But hey, maybe if OP did, OP’s coworkers would start using the private setting on their calendar appointments and then OP’s question would be made moot. :-)

        1. Mockingjay*

          Sure, I make my private appointments “private.” But sometimes you forget.

          I’ve posted before about the supervisor at ExToxicJob, who demanded all calendars be linked (fair enough, valid for meeting coordination) but wouldn’t let us set personal appointments to private. Like most people, I throw family appointments on for awareness, knowing it’s hubby’s turn to take the kids to the orthodontist. Yet I got emails: “are you taking leave for this appointment?” Fer cripes sake. I bought a pocket calendar at the dollar store and stuck it in my purse, and wiped my Outlook calendar of every personal item.

          OP, just pretend those appointments aren’t on there. Your boss is juggling business and personal events, like 99 percent of us. Even though you can see it, that weekend event is not your business.

          1. Slow Gin Lizz*

            Ooh, yes, I remember you mentioning that toxic boss. Ugh, that’s ridiculous.

      2. metadata minion*

        “It’s one thing to notice what your boss is doing in her time out of the office; it’s something else entirely to hang on to the information long enough to comment on it five days later. ”

        I absolutely agree that you shouldn’t bring it up, but this statement seems weird to me. I can’t control how long I hang on to information (I can sometimes hang on to it longer by brute force, but even there I’m better off just writing it down). If I see “oh, Sharon has an appointment at HairSalon; I’ve been meaning to check that one out!”, that will stick in my head because I’m personally interested in the salon, not because I have an unhealthy fascination with Sharon’s schedule.

        1. Tio*

          But there’s no way for a person to know if it’s because of how you retain information, or because of your deep interest in that specific place, and if you talk to your boss about it five days later it’s going to seem weird. If I had something up that my reports could see and they started asking me about it, I would NOT be happy.

        2. MCMonkeyBean*

          You can’t control how long you hang onto information, but you can control whether or not you say so out loud.

    2. ariel*

      1. That’s hilarious.
      2. My advice to LW1 is to engage in casual conversation and such topics, if the person wants to discuss them, will come up naturally. “What are your plans for the weekend? My friends and I are thinking about trying that new restaurant” is a great convo waiting to happen. I do try to tread lightly when a colleague’s out and I don’t know why – “I hope you enjoyed your time away” feels like too much of an expectation, what if they were at a funeral. But “any vacations planned?” or even “gosh I hate my stove” can take us lots of places that build some rapport without being invasive.

    3. Oui oui oui all the way home*

      This is fantastic! Thank you for sharing it. I’m another cat owner and you made me laugh.

  13. Shakti*

    LW 3 you were really correct to speak up! Strep throat is incredibly contagious and can make people very sick. Although I’ve never gotten it I’ve heard it’s truly horrible to get! Mono isn’t very contagious unless you’re sharing drinks or utensils or kissing or something. That said I got mono and was literally bedridden for 3 months when I was 18 and never really recovered my immune system so I wouldn’t wish it on anybody! Honestly I’m worried about the child too they really really should be resting especially with mono otherwise they won’t get better. It’s a horrible idea for the child to come for literally every single person

    1. Double A*

      I also am worried about this poor kid with serious illnesses being dragged around.

      1. EPLawyer*

        This too. How much is the kid going to get out of being there if they are that sick?

    2. Brain the Brian*

      Strep throat killed my family’s cat when I was a kid — no joke. I brought it home from school, and it’s one of the few things that can transmit between humans and cats. Poor kitty was elderly, and he didn’t make it. :(

    3. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I think a lot of people believe ‘childhood diseases’ are caught by children or young adults only. That’s not true, of course. I’ve had strep several times as an adult, and it was painful and long-lasting, even with antibiotics. And I’ve known adults who still suffer the effects of mono. I don’t take either disease lightly and don’t wish them on anyone.

      BTB, I’m sorry about your kitty, didn’t know cats could get strep.

      1. Hannah Lee*

        There was a news story last year about a family who kept getting strep over and over again. They didn’t know other people who had it, and couldn’t figure out where they were getting it. It turns out it was their cat. Once the cat was treated, no more strep cases.

      2. Grace*

        Strep as an adult is AWFUL. Took forever to get over.

        I’m so sorry about your cat.

        Also, the LW should just have to point their boss (and Karen) to the FAQ they mentioned that straight up says not to bring sick kids in. That should be all the backing needed.

    4. Dust Bunny*

      I spend a lot of time helping my parents, who are over 70, and my mom is an organ transplant recipient who has to be on immunosuppressants.

      I do not want sick kids at work.

    5. Lurkermom*

      I don’t know mono, but strep IS highly contagious. it also is no longer contagious after 24hr of antibiotics per our pediatricians office — having dealt with 5 cases among my kids this spring. Ugh, apparently it’s really prevalent this year and several times it’s been asymptomatic.

    6. Pointy's in the North Tower*

      My BIL was hospitalized and almost died last week due to a strep infection in his leg. (He’s home and on the road to recovery now.) A former boyfriend died from a strep infection in his bloodstream. Last time I had strep was in college, and my fever was so high I almost had to go to the hospital. Strep is serious.

      BIL’s home health nurse said she has A LOT of patients right now with strep infections in/on their skin. It’s really, really serious.

      I mentioned upthread my college boyfriend who now has ME and can’t work due to the mono we got in college. (We’re 40 now, so over 15 years later.)

      I would lose my business at a coworker coming to work with mono and/or strep, let alone bringing their kid who’s sick with both. My BIL is immunocompromised right now, and I help change his bandages every night. I can’t risk him getting something new on top of everything else.

      This is why I still mask at work. Added bonus: a coworker just tested positive with Covid yesterday.

    7. NotAnotherManager!*

      Strep made me the sickest I have ever been in my life, and it involved an incredibly high fever and visual hallucinations. I would not wish that on my worst enemy and am aghast that someone would consider knowingly bringing it into the office.

      I would worry about mono with a group of kids. They are not always good about checking to make sure that was their cup or their whatever before drinking/eating and also tend to hang all over each other.

      Knowing exposing your coworkers and other kids to known illness is irresponsible, selfish, and something HR should be stepping in to shut down immediately, especially since it was announced in a public Slack channel. It reminds me of the time my in-laws did not tell us our nephew had a stomach virus because they didn’t want us not to visit because he was so excited about it. And he then proceeded to vomit repeatedly into a trashcan while I tried to keep my toddlers from investigating. I was so angry.

    8. Anne Wentworth*

      Two months for me when I got mono – I missed a summer in high school. At its worst point, I couldn’t stand or walk in a straight line, and I was slurring my speech. I had to just lay there with my eyes closed because everything was spinning. Mono is not something to mess around with.

  14. Brain the Brian*

    LW3, I suspect that your management — like that at many companies — is using “collaboration” as cover for “we can’t get out of our office lease and are unwilling to think creatively about how best to use the space or manage our workforce.” Sigh.

    1. I have RBF*

      Yeah, the whole “collaboration” justification for open plan noise pits and RTO is just straight up bullshit. It was BS before Covid, and is more so now.

      How can people “collaborate” when they have to wear heavy-duty noise canceling headphones to even be able to think?

      1. Brain the Brian*

        I would be so much more sympathetic to arguments for bringing remote workers back to offices if companies were just honest. It’s one of the few things I can say in favor of management where I work: they are straight with us about the fact that the landlord at our very expensive HQ has been unwilling to budget on downsizing our rented space, letting us out of the lease altogether, or letting us renovate the space to better serve post-Covid needs (e.g. closed-door offices for everyone instead of a cube farm). The rent for that office is one of our largest expenses every year (something like 2%-3% of the organization’s total budget), and we have to prove that it’s “occupied” to include it in our indirect rate calculation for government grants, so we all have to trek in at least once per week. No one likes it, but at least management is honest.

        1. SB*

          The landlord is shooting him/herself in the foot by being inflexible. When the lease is up, it is likely your employer will look for a smaller space, & with a lot of companies going this way, large office spaces are becoming much harder to rent out. They may find themselves with an unoccupied white elephant of a building.

  15. Zarniwoop*

    “the ill child will still be coming into the office and her parent has no plans to disclose that she has mono to the other 450 children in attendance.”
    Well maybe somebody else can disclose it. Anonymously. If I were a parent I’d like to know so I could leave my kid home that day.

    1. Ellis Bell*

      Yeah, if HR or event management don’t nix this, it really seems like prime “push back as a group” territory.

    2. Despachito*

      IANAL but isn’t intentional spreading of an infectious disease punishable by law?

      But even if it isn’t, it is an extremely stupid idea to bring a sick kid to work, and I wonder what the boss is thinking when defending this parent instead of the rest of the potentially infected folks.

      1. Foxy Hedgehog*

        In some states of the US under some circumstances yes. What’s described here in OP2 would never ever be prosecuted though; the charges you see generally have to do with sexually transmitted diseases not being disclosed by a partner.

        (I’m assuming US because of the absurd reference to HIPAA by the supervisor).

      2. Observer*

        IANAL but isn’t intentional spreading of an infectious disease punishable by law?


        This has been discussed in a few places here, but in any case, there is absolutely no obligation on regular people to keep accurate information to themselves. *Providers of medical services* (such as doctors, nurses, etc.) and related functions (eg billing office) have a significant legal obligation. But no one else.

        In a case like this where a person made that information public, there is even less of an obligation.

    3. Lizard the Second*

      Yes! In fact, would the office have a duty of care to the other 450 children to not knowingly expose them to this hazard?

    4. Jessica*

      I would (a) put it out on the office grapevine as hard as I could, and (b) call in sick that day. Seriously, no sane person wants to expose self or kid to strep. This office is unbelievable, but maybe when not only is take your kid to work day a failure, but they can hardly carry on operations because of the sickout, they’ll rethink. Although “think” does not sound like a skill this company’s leadership has.

    5. Zarniwoop*

      Or tell whoever it was set the “no sick kids” policy she’s planning to break.

    6. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      450 other kids.


      There’s going to be a newspaper article in 3 weeks about an epidemic of mono sweeping the schools in OP’s town.

      1. 3DogNight*

        Yep. We just went through Mono at our house. 3 weeks at home because of the fever rule. Then 6 more weeks of no sports because of the spleen. Can your employer afford to have 400+ employees out for 3 weeks? Because Mono sucks.

  16. Le Vauteur*

    LW2 – the employee has effectively said they are planning to ignore the FAQs for the day – aka the terms and conditions of the day. If they can’t respect those, then they get all the consequences, including having their professional judgement questioned. What other instructions do they not follow?

    A reminder to all employees to read the FAQs prior to the day might be all you can do if the higher ups are ignoring the issue.

    LW4 – I can’t say that I’ve never taken a red pen to a posted notice missing an apostrophe, or made someone correct a display board missing correct punctuation and grammar. Or cringed at emails from teachers.

    It irks me mightily that many so-called educators in public schools do not have a good command of spelling, punctuation and grammar. That stuff matters, and when I’m hiring, I absolutely judge people on that.

    You could try saying to your boss that a parent mentioned a couple of typos they’d spotted in recent newsletters, that you know they’re really busy and sometimes have to produce these things in a hurry whilst doing 20 other things, so would it help for you to be a second pair of eyes for them before it gets published.

    1. Redaktorin*

      As a copyeditor, I would really discourage making this a factor in hiring, unless:

      1) You’re hiring for positions in which spelling, punctuation, and grammar are part of the job and can’t be fixed by anyone or anything except the applicant.


      2) You are absolutely certain that none of the “rules” you think you know are actually myths or misinterpretations. For example, I’ve had a number of people tell me things about how prepositions can never end a sentence, infinitives can never be split, “whom” should be used instead of “who” whenever you’re feeling formal, it’s absolutely always “and I” (or “and myself” for formal writing) but never “and me,” semicolons go in place of commas whenever a pause “feels long,” and no sentence can ever start with the words “therefore” or “however.” But none of this stuff is true, and tossing applications over it would be counterproductive.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        The one resume I did toss out for a simple typo was the resume that specifically called out “poofreading” experience. No R.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        OOH. I’m on a mission to get people to stop saying “whomever” because
        a) it’s really hard to explain/remember when to use “whomever” instead of “whoever,” and some prominent grammar websites get it wrong;
        b) honestly most of the time it’s “whoever”; and
        c) no one reasonable is going to judge you for saying “whoever” all the time, so in general, people should just do that.

    2. Redaktorin*

      (I do, however, tend to agree with you that K-12 educators are people who really should be required to get this stuff right.)

    3. Michelle Smith*

      And then what does OP say when the principal asks “which parent”? I’m not sure a lie is the right approach here.

    4. umami*

      I am really shocked at the high value being placed on being perfect in communications if your job isn’t in communications. There is nothing more off-putting than people who value the things they are good at over the skills needed to do a job. My husband was an excellent professor (now retired) but a terrible speller. Luckily his employee didn’t value his ability to spell and punctuate over his ability to successfully teach difficult concepts to college students.

      1. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Yup. It seems very…classist? Condescending? Naive? Idk. It’s sad how many people automatically write off someone’s intelligence and potential due to a simple error. In my last job, I had a brilliant coworker – super strategic, incredibly sharp, majored in Marine Biology – but she could not spell to save her life. And she tried really hard. Just wasn’t one of her strengths, much like how math might not be someone else’s (and yet, thankfully, we as a society usually don’t say, “Oh, he can’t do his multiplication tables? Throw out his resume.”) Not everyone has the same talents, a lot of people are neurodivergent, and many did not get access to the early education that would traditionally teach this type of thing. It can be ironic how some of those same people who preach acceptance and equity turn around and write someone off as an idiot the minute they mix up a your/you’re.

        1. Observer*

          It seems very…classist? Condescending? Naive? Idk

          Naive is the one I would choose. Look at how many educators and highly educated folks make these errors, assuming correct grammar correlates with class is rather naive.

          1. Well...*

            yea… it strikes me as some combination of classist and “play silly games, win silly prizes.” You’re not going to get access to the upper echelons of society with this grammar stickler crap, but you might feel superior to some people in your local community. You’re also gonna alienate hella people playing the grammar know-it-all game, and alienating people usually doesn’t get you very far in life…

  17. Ellis Bell*

    OP1, I’m an education reporter turned teacher, and in my former job I read countless school websites, newsletters and communications. What I will say is this: your school probably doesn’t stand out all that much from the others! This stuff is amazingly common and I like to joke that I went into teaching because I wanted to help put an end to the plural s apostrophe and it didn’t seem like schools cared! When I did go into teaching, I learned what you already know: there are teachers who specialise in those details and other teachers who bring different talents to the table. As long as the kids get rigorous teaching on it, I’d let it go. I also learned that there’s only so many hours in the day and you can’t provide free PR services to your school if you want to be an effective teacher who also has a life. Lots of schools now hire someone for their communications, even if it’s more affordable to do it through one person at the area council, so that’s worth mentioning if parents are being put off coming to your school. If you’re talking about parents who are already part of the school, just take pleasure and pride in your own communications with them.

  18. talos*

    LW3 – I definitely left a job partially because I didn’t want to come in to work to just sit on Teams and Zoom (we used both, it was not clear why) all day.

    Nothing like the joy of hearing your coworker say something from the next cubicle over, then hearing it again through Zoom, because your office’s meeting room booking software is so bad that nobody ever books a room and everyone takes every call from their desks, and only execs (more likely, their admins) ever manage to book a room with a camera in it anyway.

    So no advice here (except to leave your job, I guess) – just commiseration!

  19. Varthema*

    OP2 – Maybe you’ll get traction if you point out that if strep and/or mono spreads to other kids in the office, you’ll have a serious staffing problem when alllll those parents have to call out to take care of their kids. Mono lasts a LONG time. obviously that shouldn’t be a more compelling reason than having the coworker with health issues, except that unfortunately it might since mass absence would inconvenience management.

    OW3 – I completely sympathize with your overall point, but as one of those permanently remote employees, hybrid meeting rooms are the worst, please don’t push for them! One of the boons of the shutdowns has been the death of that godawful meeting format where I miss a third of what is said and am aware of how massive my face is on the screen where every twitch of my facial expression is literally on display…while simultaneously not really being able to read expressions or even hear my colleagues very well. My company has a lot of geographically remote employees for coverage reasons, and as a result, they have NOT gone back to a hybrid model precisely because of the fact that it doesn’t make sense to go to the office and Zoom all day. And when they do have “in-person days” we have fewer meetings.

    1. Monty*

      Wasn’t there recently evidence that people who had mono as children have an increased likelihood of developing MS as adults? If I were a parent whose child was attending this event, I would be furious.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Holy cow I had not heard that before and am looking at some stuff online about it now.

      2. Anonythis*

        More immediately, Epstein-Barr can and does trigger chronic fatigue syndrome. Happened to my partner (before I met him), he was unemployed and on disability for over a decade as a direct result of catching mono once.

  20. Not Australian*

    I had a similar problem to #4: my bosses at a small company produced and sent out – before I joined them – an awful brochure packed with typoes and terrible layout. I tactfully (I hope!) pointed out that it could be improved upon for the next printing, but the response was “We like it like that.” Okay then. Guess who went out of business shortly afterwards?

  21. Other Alice*

    LW3, if you have calls with external people (customers, etc) you might mention the noise in the open office is disruptive for them? I have regular calls with someone in a similar situation and I hate the days when she’s in the office and hasn’t managed to get a conference room, there is so much noise around her that I can’t hear what she’s saying and have to ask her to repeat, and in the end I miss most of what she’s saying and have to ask her to send over the meeting minutes and hope she’s thorough.

    If your situation is similar, you might point out that noise cancelling headphones will not solve the problem for people who are on the receiving end of the calls? I’m sorry you are in this situation.

  22. Madame Arcati*

    #2 what is the coworker thinking?! Even if we hadn’t had the recent pandemic, even if every single worker was hale and hearty, training for a marathon, glossy fur and cold wet noses every one – who on god’s* green earth thinks it’s ok to bring in a child with an infectious disease? A sore throat is unpleasant enough but mono (which I believe is known as glandular fever in my world) is nasty and can knock you out for WEEKS. And assuming LW is in the US then I daresay she and her colleagues don’t have weeks of sick days and would have to take unpaid time off if they caught it. IANAL but could you sue her for that lost money!? I’m joking but only a bit.

    *other deities, or the absence thereof, are available

    Honestly though I genuinely can’t see the point of bring your child to work days. Maybe because it’s Not A Thing where I am but all I can see is problems – health and safety, data security, privacy of info, boredom of child, productivity of staff…what is it supposed to achieve, who is it good for? The crossover between jobs that don’t have any of the above problems but is actually interesting/informative for the child must be tiny. And what do any of the adults get out of it?
    There’s got to be something I haven’t thought of!

    1. bamcheeks*

      “bring your child to work day” seems like such a great way to perpetuate and entrench class inequalities to me. “bring someone else’s child to work” would be much better.

      1. Nobby Nobbs*

        “Bring your child to work day” started as a way to lessen gender inequalities, actually! It was originally “bring your daughter to work day” and the purpose was to show girls what their options were beyond the approximately three approved career paths expected of them.

      2. Morning reader*

        It started as “bring your daughter to work” as a way to expose girls to the working world, to see the work their mothers (sometimes fathers) do and give them the strong sense that women work outside the home.

        It evolved to bring your child to work, same purpose. I realize that it may not be equitable to bring your own child to work but I don’t see how anyone could go around picking up other people’s children to show them their workplace.

        I think it’s great that kids get to see the workplace. In context, growing up in the 60s, I had no concept of what my father did every day. He worked in an office. I know he was an “engineer” of some sort but not on a train. My mother (like most in my neighborhood) did not work outside the home. Example: going to baseball games, the parent/child thing where ball players brought their kids was a father/son thing. No girls. I remember once my dad sat my brother down for a talk about his career aspirations. Would not have occurred to him to have that talk with me or my sister. 50 years ago, we were so divided by gender that taking Daughters to work was radical, or at least progressive. As a girl, I couldn’t aspire to be (for example) a baseball player or an astronaut, because women were not allowed to do those things.So showing daughters that women work and what jobs are, etc, was important.

        Now, I don’t know. The idea that women don’t or shouldn’t work has mostly been left in the dust. But I hear so many accounts of misogyny here on this blog that we probably need to keep hammering it. Perhaps we should go back to bringing only daughters to work, or only women bringing their children. Do boys really need to see their fathers at work? If they do, does there need to be a special day for it? Seems to me that all these activities, an atmosphere that is not a normal work day, detracts from the purpose. Which is to see a workplace at work and their parent’s place in it. Maybe just bring a kid once a year on a normal day, not all the kids at once?

        The whole kids at work thing seems to have outgrown its purpose.

        1. Really?*

          So true. In high school my sister, who was interested in medicine, was told “why don’t you be a nurse – it’s such a nice profession for a girl,” by the high school guidance counselor. My parents, on the other hand, told her she could be whatever she wanted. She’s an orthopedic surgeon and all through med school and two residencies, she faced discrimination. People have forgotten what it was like 40 years ago, and how hard some women had to fight for the rights a lot of younger women take for granted.

      3. ScruffyInternHerder*

        We actually can do this where I work. I can bring my own, or children of friends if they’re interested in what I do. There’s a form for the latter that has to be signed by their parent.

        My workplace uses BYKTWD as both a fun way to show the little kids what Mommy or Daddy do all day, and as a way to highlight career paths available here to older kids. Middle and high school kids fill out a form that includes which departments they would like to spend time in on the Day. Departments can opt out (obviously there are departments that do not participate for security/privacy/etc reason), and individuals within the departments can volunteer to be a role model for the day. Yes, volunteer role models do receive a background check. Yes, I did lose a day of productivity by showing three middle schoolers how to use the specialized software and running a test case with them. Maybe someday one of those middle schoolers will be one of my direct reports, who’s to say?

    2. amoeba*

      I mean, we have it it my company and while I don’t have kids myself, my colleagues with children say their kids love it. There’s generally some cool activities, so they don’t just have to sit in the office and be bored all day, and I guess they also just like the glimpse into their parents “other life”!

      However, none of that makes it OK to send a sick child – if anything it makes it worse for them to ruin something that others enjoy! (If it goes horribly wrong, I can easily see the event being cancelled next year…)

    3. Smiley*

      Just to note that while yes mono/glandular fever is AWFUL, it’s also spread through exchanging saliva, which I’d assume is not going to happen at a Bring Your Child To Work Day haha. I totally agree that the kid shouldn’t come because of the strep, but also think being medically accurate in risk assessment is important, so I’m not trying to refute what you are saying, just adding on context. As you said, mono can linger for months, and it would be unrealistic to expect people to self isolate for months on end for an illness that is very easy to prevent the spread of if you know you have it.

      1. Sue*

        For what it’s worth strep shouldn’t be contagious once the kid has been on antibiotics for 24 hours, and as this seems at least a bit in the future she may even be mostly over the strep by the time the day comes around.
        Mono is another story, though, and she should not be running all over the place.
        I’d ask mom to bring a doctors note. She probably has one for school anyway, and if she doesn’t… that ought to speak for itself.

      2. Engineer*

        Mono is spread through *droplets.* Kissing might the most common way, but it’s far, far from the only. A wet cough with spittle, licking fingers and then grabbing something, a sneeze – all ways to transmit. And likely how this kid picked it up, if they’re young enough to a) need to be watched over while sick and b) still care about Bring Your Kid to Work day.

      3. RabbitRabbit*

        Saliva spread can include sharing food/drinks, licking their fingers and touching someone/something and then another person unknowingly rubs their nose/mouth/eyes after touching the droplets, and so forth, not just kissing.

        I’m just thinking of the various ways used to keep kids occupied at these events, usually snacks, drinks, maybe small toys or other souvenirs. Imagine a mono-infected kid running around and taking sips out of everyone’s cups to try the drinks, picking through all kinds of snacks to see what ones they want best, etc. Sounds like an ideal superspreader event.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          This. There is no way I’d assume that saliva wasn’t being exchanged! Augh!

      4. virago*

        The nickname “kissing disease” for mononucleosis is a misnomer. There are many ways that saliva can be exchanged that don’t involve two people locking lips.

      5. Observer*

        it’s also spread through exchanging saliva, which I’d assume is not going to happen at a Bring Your Child To Work Day haha.

        Well, that’s not the ONLY way it gets spread. And with young kids, the chances are quite high that some of the kid’s saliva is going to land on something that someone might touch.

        There is a reason why hand hygiene is so important to infection control.

      6. Dahlia*

        Children. Lick. Everything.

        It’s a thing, it’s such a thing. They lick their hands, they lick random surfaces, they lick each other. They chew on pens. They cough with their mouth opens. They sneeze without covering it. They share food and water bottles.

        MULTIPLE TIMES while working with kids I’ve had the “please do not lick me, I don’t like it” conversation.

        It’s… there’s so much licking. So much.

      7. Delta Delta*

        I’d love to know how I got mono in 4th grade that had me out of school and flat on my back for 2 weeks. Certainly wasn’t swapping spit in elementary school.

    4. Jessica*

      What was Take Your Daughter to Work Day supposed to achieve? Helping to bolster girls’ self-esteem, give them career info, and make them feel like they belonged in the workplace.

      Who was it good for? Girls.

      But Oh no, what about the boys?? This is why we can’t have nice things. Even when those things are just a small attempt to address historic inequities.

      Seriously, a lot of people don’t seem to remember, or younger people just don’t know, but Take Your Daughter to Work Day was invented by Ms. in the 1990s to help girls. You know, the sex most likely to be discouraged from certain careers/stereotyped into others, sexually harassed at work, or paid less than their male counterparts.

      This is why Take Your Kids to Work Day fills me with rage. It’s akin to Straight Pride or White History Month–excepti it was apparently a lot more socially acceptable to apply that kind of thinking to an initiative that was meant to benefit women/girls.

      1. Enby's mom*

        FWIW the all-kids version allowed my nonbinary child to feel comfortable attending, before Covid called it off.

      2. Observer*

        But Oh no, what about the boys?? This is why we can’t have nice things. Even when those things are just a small attempt to address historic inequities.

        That was actually not the only reason to bring boys to work. For many boys, the workplace was the first time they saw women / their own mothers in roles that weren’t home based. And if there were women in positions of authority or positions that were highly skilled and / or traditionally make, that was an added bonus in changing perceptions.

    5. YetAnotherAnalyst*

      On the purpose of Take Our Children to Work Day – my dad brought me to work for Take Our Daughter to Work Day a few times in the 90s, when it was starting to be a thing, and it was transformative. I had never been inside an office before, or seen professional adults interacting. I couldn’t picture what Dad did all day. It was boring in bits (and Dad had me bring homework and a book with me to fill those gaps), but the novelty of an office environment (cubicles! coworkers! vending machines! an actual robot to deliver the mail!?!) makes them honestly some of my favorite memories of Dad. As an adult, I think having those brief memories gave me a lot more confidence transitioning to office work myself.

      1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        I remember going to one of those, and one of my dad’s coworkers showing me how to photocopy my arm and random other things that could be photocopied. That was basically what I got out of it.

    6. I Get It*

      My child works for LinkedIn. They have a “Bring Your Parents to Work Day!” It’s fun and quite instructive When they started there, LinkedIn was fairly new and we had NO IDEA what it was. We got to tour the facility (including the snack room), and different people talked to us about what the company did, etc.

    7. Onelia*

      We do a structured Take Your Child to Work day here at my institution. The kids do get to sit with their parents and see what kind of work we do, but there are also tours and some of our faculty offer lectures and sessions in their research areas and the kids kind of get to experience how University lectures work. I think there is a lunch event as well. It’s really well received, and I would have loved it as a kid! Haha. Then again, it’s likely a great PR event for the school and since we get a really nice tuition discount for our children, most of them will likely be back here in a few years as students anyway.

    8. LW2 - sick kid*

      I didn’t think to include this in my original letter, but you are correct. We do not get dedicated sick leave at our company. We only get a combined pool of PTO to cover sick time, vacations, everything. So an employee who is newer to the company could burn through 100% of their paid time off allowance very, very easily if they or their child were ill.

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      This. I am really struggling to imagine a circumstance in which this would every be appropriate or what LW1 thinks they would gain by doing this.

  23. Vique*

    LW1. At best you can ask something along the lines of “how was your weekend?” And if THEY then mention the restaurant ask them how it was. Otherwise it seems a bit stalker-ish to ask about places they’ve never mentioned.

  24. Sue*

    LW1 I think you could casually mention something like the restaurant example, like, once. Or if you’re looking at the calendar together – “tomorrow afternoon looks okay after 3 for me and it looks like you’re free until 5 oh hey that restaurant has been on my list, let me know how it is!!”
    But definitely don’t make it a Thing.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Eh, I think even these suggestions are too much. Maybe– MAYBE– if you’re both looking at the calendar, but otherwise, I wouldn’t even bring this up once. It’s a bit overly familiar.

      My calendar is private (co-workers can see free/busy but not the details) but if it were public and someone saw today’s entry and commented on the pedicure I’m getting at lunch today, I would be pretty put off. It doesn’t matter that it’s just a pedicure and not a secret, but it’s not something I expect commentary on.

  25. Turingtested*

    Letter #1 is fascinating to me. I’m a very private person and would never use a personal calendar at work. (My team just blocks out “name out” for personal stuff on the calendar without explanation.) It also seems in really bad taste to comment on someone’s calendar beyond contacting them to say “I’m trying to schedule this urgent meeting and you’re showing unavailable the next three days can you make time?” In that circumstance I would never comment on anything specific.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      This. We just put that we’re “out of office”. We don’t put why. Why is for our personal calendars/day books/whatever.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        I find it too complicated to have separate calendars and will inevitably forget to update one or the other and screw things up. I even tried getting a really nice paper planner and it just turned into a lot of extra work trying to write everything down in addition to having a work, school, and personal electronic calendar. And then I had to carry it around with me everywhere or risk overbooking appointments if I forgot and left it at home.

        Because I never wanted confident client information on my personal phone, I’ve just taken to using my work Outlook calendar almost exclusively, even for personal things. It has worked well for me for over 5 years and 3 different jobs now. It matters if I’m planning to have a dinner with friends on Saturday (super rare for me) when sometimes I need to travel for work or attend conferences or do other things on the weekend. Same thing in the evenings. I have some clients in Central, Mountain, and Pacific time zones when I live in Eastern. That means sometimes I have meetings at 8 am or 7 pm and I don’t really want to overbook with a doctor’s appointment or a dinner or something on a day when I need to meet with clients (or plan to be out late the night before an early meeting). I also feel like some of my evening “personal” stuff like attending bar association meetings, continuing education programs, and networking events is work-related to a degree, so I put those in my calendar and don’t even flag them as personal.

        Pretty much the only things I have on my personal phone calendar now are family/friend birthdays (since that just pops up there because their birthday is in my contact entry for them) and events or appointments I sign up for on my phone. And for those, I invite my work email as an attendee so they show up on my work calendar too.

        I’ve never worked in an office where it was expected to share your full calendar details with managers or coworkers. I have shared the details with paralegals assigned to work with me because I felt it was useful for them to know “hey Michelle is at a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, so I need find a supervisor to deal with this emergency. they’re not going to be able to run over to court no matter how mad the judge is.” That can be changed for individual appointments pretty easily in Outlook or I can work the appointments carefully enough that I know I’m seeing the podiatrist for the same ingrown nail for the 3rd time this year, but no one else does.

        I also accept the fact that even though most people, like my boss, can’t just click on my calendar and see my appointment details, IT certainly can. I presume anything in my work Outlook can be seen by them if they really care to know. I’ve decided that tradeoff is worth being able to more easily manage my life. If anyone has ever snooped (whether for a legitimate business related purpose or not), I’ve never found out about it, been confronted about it, or heard gossip about it. I just assume most people are really not that interested in my life and are busy worrying about their own and so far that has worked out okay for me.

        1. t-vex*

          Same, I can’t function if I can’t see all my commitments for the day/week all in one place. I try to mark things like doctor’s appointments or yoga classes “Private” when I remember so no one else can see the details… but at the end of the day it’s more important for me to have them on the calendar than prevent anyone else knowing I’ll be busy Wednesday night.

    2. Chase*

      I think by personal calendar, they mean a personal outlook calendar for work; I have the permissions set so my manager can see mine and vice versa. We do this to make planning the work days easier. But agreed, I don’t put anything personal on my work calendar except under the label of “hold” or “appointment”. It’s likely I wouldn’t even care if my boss knew I was going to a restaurant right after work, but I don’t want them thinking they are going to be privy to my activities.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I put personal stuff on my calendar all the time including small reminders like “go return that thing to Target.”

      But at my company the only thing you see on other people’s calendars is “Busy”

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      Same. It always surprises me when people use their work account for personal things because, with a modern smartphone, you can see all your calendars in one place very easily – mine has my work calendar, our family/kids calendar, my personal calendar, and a couple of subscribed calendars for the kids’ school and a sports team one plays on. I open my iPhone calendar, and they are all there, neatly color-coded by calendar of origin. This also means my spouse can see when things are scheduled in line with his work calendar, so the onus is not completely on me to schedule things around existing commitments.

      If I leave my job, I never want to have to port all of my personal stuff back over or lose access to it. I feel like every time I schedule something or fill out a form, it wants some date that I can only get from searching my historical calendar entries. I also worked for years in litigation discovery and have seen some shit from the personal things people use their work accounts for – your employer will not always disclose to you when your work account has been collected or even put up for review/production.

      As for commenting on someone else’s non-work calendar entries? I just find that creepy and inappropriate. Why are you reading my calendar entries instead of doing your job? I had someone recently whose calendar detail was showing up in the scheduling assistant in Outlook and let them know that it was not set to private so they could get it fixed.

      1. Observer*

        It always surprises me when people use their work account for personal things because, with a modern smartphone, you can see all your calendars in one place very easily

        Not always so easy. Also, a lot of people need to have this stuff in their work calendars because these things are happening during work time. No one needs to know that you are going to have you corns cut out, but they DO need to know that you are going to be out of the office. So if you just put in the time, it winds up meaning that you have to maintain 2 (or more) calendars.

        This works well for a lot of people, but I don’t find it surprising that a lot of people put their personal stuff in their work calendars.

  26. Sue*

    For what it’s worth strep shouldn’t be contagious once the kid has been on antibiotics for 24 hours, and as this seems at least a bit in the future she may even be mostly over the strep by the time the day comes around.
    Mono is another story, though, and she should not be running all over the place.
    I’d ask mom to bring a doctors note. She probably has one for school anyway, and if she doesn’t… that ought to speak for itself.

    1. Not your typical admin*

      This is kind of where I fall. I had strep often as a child, and never missed more than one day of school each time. While on it’s face this sounds really bad, we don’t know how long the child has been sick, and how long they’ve been receiving treatment. I do wonder why the parent brought it up. If I, or my child, had been under the weather but was no longer contagious I wouldn’t bring up my illness only because I wouldn’t want people to worry.

      1. Grace*

        Even if the strep isn’t contagious at this point, if the child is coughing (which, if they’ve got strep, they probably are), that makes the mono much more contagious, since it’s spread by droplets. And mono has serious consequences for some people, even if you get it as a kid.

  27. Jessica*

    LW1, I totally put personal stuff on my work calendar for my own convenience, but I usually mark it private. If a coworker asked me about a personal thing, I would find it creepy and intrusive, give them some awkward reply, and make a mental note to be more diligent about marking stuff private.

    1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

      Not remarking on someone’s calendar fits in the same general rules of cube life: You will overhear or see personal things, but you pretend you don’t to preserve a polite fiction of privacy. Whether it’s a phone call, bathroom stuff, or a calendar event — nope, didn’t see it, doesn’t exist.

  28. Grammar Stalinist*

    LW4, I make no comment on what you should do, but I consider multiple grammatical errors (note that these are not mere “typos,” but rather usage errors) to be near catastrophic.

    I would be very worried about instructional quality at an elementary schoo where leadership does not know the difference between “their” and “they’re.” If I were a parent or a child at that school, I would very much raise the issue.

      1. ADidgeridooForYou*

        Hah, I love it when someone is writing about the sheer indignity and horror of bad grammar and makes one him/herself. Not that I blame them! It happens to all of us! Just gotta love the irony.

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      Usage errors are still usually typos. I minored in creative writing and I promise I know the difference between their and there and when to use its vs it’s, but I still type the wrong words sometimes!

      “Near catastrophic” is frankly a ridiculous overreaction. And for the record, if you are comparing yourself to Stalin you can probably assume you’re on the wrong side of the issue!

      1. Well...*

        I tried to make this point earlier, but predictably, the people who overreact to tiny grammar errors are also the people who fail to consider nuance and therefore misidentify how those errors are generated. They are willing to blindly accept the fake reality where everyone who mistyped “their” vs. “they’re” just doesn’t actually know which means what.

        Sometimes an insistence on being “right” moves you further from truth.

    2. Observer*

      , but I consider multiple grammatical errors (note that these are not mere “typos,” but rather usage errors) to be near catastrophic.

      I hope you don’t manage anyone or anything.

      I have two questions for you:

      1. How do you know that these are not “mere typos” or the effect of autocorrect? (If you don’t know how this stuff happens, you are in NO position to express any opinion on the severity of anyone’s mistakes.)

      2. Why are you putting scare quotes around the work typos? It certainly appears that you, the self proclaimed brutal dictator of grammar, apparently don’t understand the use of quotes. In your case the old line about the pot calling the kettle black is a massive understatement.

      And I would point out that if I am going to be looking at the communications of staff at a school to evaluate instructional quality, I would be FAR more concerned with someone who either apparently has no understanding of history or valorizes a brutal dictator, as evidenced by your handle, than someone who may not be a perfect grammarian.

  29. The Rafters*

    OP 2, even if it was a HIPAA violation (which is definitely is not) the coworker announced it on a public forum, so you didn’t violate a dang thing. Your boss is a doofus.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      Came here to say this – I’ve been required to take HIPAA classes every year since 2006 or so – boss is a doofus and this is not a violation – a violation would be if you had access to the kid’s medical history through your work and disclosed it to people without said access. But you don’t have the access, and you didn’t copy that information from the kid’s medical charts into your work slack, she flipping posted about it herself! Also wondering what is wrong with the manager that is willing to stretch reality that far to… allow someone to bring their contagious kid in? All managers I’ve had sent people home for being contagious, not the other way around!

  30. LB33*

    Doesn’t mono usually make someone really weak and tired on top of the rest? i can’t imagine this poor kid has even the faintest desire to attend his parent’s work event

    1. Jay (no, the other one)*

      I had mono my first year of college. The doc who diagnosed it said “You can do whatever you feel like doing. You’re not going to feel like doing much of anything for a while” and he was right.

      1. On Fire*

        My brother had strep, mono and flu simultaneously during freshman year of college. Missed literally a month of classes just stuck in bed in the dorm. Friends picked up food in the cafeteria and brought it in; he couldn’t even walk that far.

      2. Baby Yoda*

        Had it in high school. Was walking home from the mall and literally couldn’t take another step and my mom had to come get me. Missed a month of school. You are just soooo tired and then near the end it gave me other flu like symptoms. Miserable.

  31. HIPAA*

    The constant misuse of “HIPAA” drives me crazy. HIPAA only applies to healthcare workers who are electronically billing insurance. I’m a private pay healthcare worker, we are not a HIPAA covered entity (although HIPAA is still the standard of care for patient confidentiality). My accountant once told me he was HIPAA compliant – eye roll.

    1. mlem*

      Well, no. I work for a medical software company; we’re covered under the vendor (“business associate”) provisions of HIPAA. We (or an accountant) could encounter private medical information in the course of our service to our customers, and we’re bound to protect any PHI we uncover. We have to have policies and procedures for the protection of that PHI.

      But I do agree that HIPAA is wildly misunderstood in the wild.

      1. Cyndi*

        I work in bulk payment processing, which at various points has put me in a third party role working on insurance billing, medical billing, government paperwork requiring attached medical records–for any and all of these I’ve had to be trained in HIPAA compliance, even though all I do is sit here and process checks and credit card payments all day. Healthcare information passes in front of a lot more bureaucratic eyes than I really like to think about, even with the system working as designed and regulated! Including accountants.

    2. BatManDan*

      HIPAA covers protected health information that people encounter in their roles in the healthcare system. (For example, there was a successful lawsuit in Alabama when a worker mentioned to a mutual friend that the friend’s sister was pregnant – had been in that day for testing, and the pregnant sister had not announced it publicly yet. The healthcare worker bore the brunt of the settlement, because the medical office was able to prove that she had been trained NOT to share private medical information.) Certainly not information freely shared from one co-worker to another.

      1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

        Same. I am in the health insurance space and we have to follow HIPAA. Simply because we have the access to people’s medical info that needs to be protected. It is not limited to healthcare workers that bill insurance. If Job’s employer is a private pay entity, Job still isn’t allowed to make copies of their celebrity patients’ medical records and sell them to a tabloid (real story that keeps coming up in my mandatory HIPAA training).

    3. Angstrom*

      Yup. Our business is not healthcare. Our HR keeps sending notices saying that discussing personal health issues with colleagues could be a HIPAA violation. Sheesh.

      1. alienor*

        I’ve seen people try to argue that someone sharing THEIR OWN health issues is a HIPAA violation. Nope, if I want to stand in the public square shouting about my medical status through a megaphone, I can.

  32. CountryLass*

    The office staff when my daughter first started at school kept misspelling her (uncommon) surname and replacing part with a slightly more common version (think Wilks/Wilkes). The first two or three times, I just underlived it and corrected it, but it kept happening! I raised it with the teacher and pointed out I had concerns over them being able to help my child spell her name when they can’t do it… She promised to raise it with the office staff. The next letter came out, misspelled! I wandered into the office with the letter, pointed it out and ‘joked’ that if it happened again I should get them to right it out 20 times the way I had to when I made spelling mistakes!

    They have never got it wrong again since!

      1. I have RBF*

        I wonder sometimes if their/there/they’re, right/write, your/you’re, its/it’s and other homonym substitutions aren’t due to speech-to-text utilities that don’t do gramnmar.

  33. This Old House*

    I’m probably going to get crucified for this but, I could see myself being the Karen in #2. The thing that makes this one tricky as a parent is that there’s a chance the illnesses would not have kept the kid home from school. Strep you stay home until you’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hrs – if kid was diagnosed Tues, they’re probably back at school on Thurs, from a strep perspective. Mono, from what I’m reading, is one of those things where it can linger for ages, but you are only told to stay home as long as you’re feverish and feeling unwell. If the kid was well enough to go back to school and resume other activities, it’s tough to carve out Mom’s office as the one place where, for some reason, you’re not allowed. Sorry, you’re well enough to go to school and do boring schoolwork, but not well enough to do this fun thing you’ve been looking forward to, even though it will be no worse for your health and you’re no more likely to infect others there. Typically, when my kids are well enough to go back to school, we let them resume other activities as well, and it wouldn’t occur to me to make an exception for coming to work with me.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Well, one, as a close relative/semi-caregiver of someone who has to be on immune suppressants for life, I don’t appreciate people taking these kinds of chances, and two, this assumes that parents are honest about how not-sick their kid actually is. The parent in question is already hiding that her kid is sick, so is she also hiding just how sick?

      1. HigherEdAdminista*

        I agree. Parents who are openly admitting they are going to drag a sick kid around a bunch of other kids generally aren’t the type to be so upstanding and honest about if that kid is contagious or if that kid maybe needs a day of rest and not to be mom’s Instagram prop for the day.

      2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Karen is refusing to protect her colleagues’ and their children’s health *and* refusing to give people information they would need to make an informed choice about whether to participate. Either one of these is bad, but together it’s messed up.

    2. They*

      Your kid getting to do a fun thing that they were looking forward to doesn’t trump my desire not to get sick, especially since you don’t know my health situation or that of my loved ones. “For some reason, you’re not allowed” the reason is that you should do your best to not spread disease, sorry you’ll have to disappoint little Timmy, but why would that trump the health of your coworkers?

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        You gonna pick up my slack at work if I get mono and am out for months? Gonna donate your sick days to me?
        Your decisions affect other people.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Removed an off-topic and derailing thread here that has nothing to do with whether a kid with strep and mono should be brought to an event at work.

    3. EPLawyer*

      The company offered an online option for sick kids.

      Also, we don’t know if the kid is well enough to go back to school yet. All we know is Mom is set on the child MUST come, even thought a co-worker (not OP) said exposure to the child could be dangerous for them.

      I really think the fact there is known risk to an employee, not just a vague, well someone could catch it, is really the overriding factor here. Its not worth the risk.

      1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

        Exactly. They’re not fully missing out. Yes, online is not the same as in person. But it’s not like they’d have to miss everything.

    4. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      But there’s a big difference between attending school – which is intended to have significant benefits for the student and the community at large – and going to someone’s workplace. You can plausibly argue that missing a lot of school is going to be bad for the student. You can’t really make that argument for going to a parent’s workplace. They’re not going to fall behind from missing this. And there could be ways for them to have the experience later.

      1. Michelle Smith*

        Yep, being disappointed about missing out on things as a kid is kind of par for the course and healthy for a child to experience IMO so they don’t turn into an entitled adult. I feel like if the kid was well enough to not be contagious, it shouldn’t have even been brought up by the parent.

      2. NotAnotherManager!*

        This is where I am. My kid needs to be at school to learn things and complete their work, if they are not a risk to others. My child does not need to be at the grocery store, at Take Your Child to Word day, at a volunteer shift, or at soccer practice. Our school has semi-objective measure of when you can return to school – feeling up to it AND 24 hours with no fever without the aid of Tylenol/etc., 24 hours without vomiting, etc.

        I also strongly dislike the message it sends to the kid that their pleasure and wants are more important than other people’s health. I *want* to do this, so forget the risk it may pose to other people. You err on the side of caution for an optional activity when other’s are involved.

        Finally, for LW2’s coworker to go into a public Slack channel and announce that her child was sick but coming to the event anyway is bad form. It basically announces that she doesn’t care about anyone else’s health or comfort and is going to do what she wants regardless. If she just thought her kid was okay, she’d have left out the public disclaimer.

        1. Relentlessly Socratic*

          I also strongly dislike the message it sends to the kid that their pleasure and wants are more important than other people’s health. I *want* to do this, so forget the risk it may pose to other people.

          I mean…this is how we got to where we did with COVID. A whole lotta people just doing what they want.

          Also, this entire topic is making my throat hurt and I need a lozenge.

          1. The Voice of Reason*

            No. The issue with Covid is that you can be asymptomatic and still transmit the virus.

  34. The Cosmic Avenger*

    LW#1, consider that some people don’t know about marking things “Private” in Outlook — I didn’t until a few months ago, and I’m generally the one considered a power user! And some people use Outlook as their primary calendar, since they look at it all day 5 days a week, so they put all their appointments on it. Some previous commenters had some good ideas about broaching the topic without asking outright. To give you an idea, I will say that I have a few coworkers with whom I talk outside of work, we know and ask about each others’ families and pets, and those people I would probably be OK asking outright, but anyone else I probably wouldn’t even hint at it, as I’m bad at that.

  35. RagingADHD*

    OMG, that poor child needs to be home in bed with popsicles and a movie. Strep and mono? They are going to be miserable going around an office all day, in addition to being contagious.

    1. Stuckinacrazyjob*

      Nod. people don’t think kids need to rest when they are
      ill but they do. yes it doesn’t look good or whatever to have them sleep or on screens but kids bounce back. they’ll be fine

  36. FashionablyEvil*

    #2–leaving aside everything else, is that supposed to be a fun day for the kid? Getting dragged to their mom’s office while they have strep and mono? Like, who wins in this situation? Anyone?

  37. Melou*

    For letter #4. Judging by the comments, this is a polarizing topic. The principal is making errors. We don’t know if it’s for lack of ability or time. It does represent the school so should represent their mission. There’s a solution where everyone is happy, the school and prinicpal save face, and without extra work: involve the students! Add a text box to the newsletter that students can find mis-spellings and grammar issues and enter them for a drawing for X prize. Readers will assume any errors are on purpose. Kids will drop their entries off to a designated place. The principal will select an entry and review it to ensure at least some errors were caught, then annouces the winner. Everyone wins.

    1. I should really pick a name*

      If the LW is concerned about offending the principal by offering to proofread, I don’t see how proposing this has any less potential for offending the principal.

    2. Snarky McSnarkerson*

      I love this idea! You could bring it up gently, I would think, by saying something like ‘Oh, I happened to see a typo and thought of this really cool thing the kids could to.’

  38. ijustworkhere*

    LW #1 Don’t do it. Good rule of thumb is don’t comment on anything personal that someone hasn’t first shared with you. You can respond if the person ‘opens the door.’

    And a shared calendar does not qualify as sharing with you. Some people actually don’t understand how to mark things private on their calendars, and aren’t aware that others can see details on their shared calendars. Maintain the illusion of not knowing.

  39. EngineerMom*

    LW #1: if you have a good relationship with your boss, and this is someone who regularly doesn’t make their personal appointments private, I’d maybe just say something like “I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but the details of your personal appointments on your schedule are still visible. Do you want me to show you how to do that?”

    In Outlook, it’s one check box to make an appointment “private”, and therefore the details invisible to everyone, including folks who have access to see the calendar (they’ll see the time blocked off, but nothing else).

    If the supervisor is someone who has never been formally trained on using the calendar system, and just learned on the fly, they may not know how to do that, or that the option is even available. I’ve had to show multiple coworkers (and a few managers) how to do that.

    1. Happily Retired*

      “I’m not sure you’re aware of this, but the details of your personal appointments on your schedule are still visible. Do you want me to show you how to do that?”

      I like this, but I think that I would change Sentence Two to “Did you mean to do that?”

      Assuming that the reply would be along the order of OMG NO!!, then OP could offer to take a look at the boss’s calendar settings and show how to make the details private.

  40. Bethany*

    My son and I both got mono when he was 11 months old, he ended up with a speech delay because of it, and the behavior problems that came from being unable to communicate continue even 12 years later! And step is miserable, that poor child will not even enjoy going to work with mom that day being sick with both!

  41. Alicia*

    EBV is not ok! It’s not “just mono”. It could be bad in the short term or long term even for regular healthy people (hello MS!), and immediately devastating to someone with a decreased ability to fight it off. This is why I disclose very loudly that I’m immunocompromised because I had a transplant. I shouldn’t have to be so vocal, but I don’t mind talking about it and I hope that in doing so, I can protect other people who are far less comfortable announcing their personal health status.

  42. madge*

    Oof, I know Alison is correct in her answer to #4, but there must be a way to get this corrected. Frequent errors in *school* newsletters have been the bane of my existence for about eight years now. I offered to edit the elementary newsletter once. The principal and I were friendly, I volunteered a lot at the school, and she knew part of my job was editing. She declined but part of me knows if I could hack into that damn newsletter and edit before sending, I would.

    Son’s current principal and VP are both PhDs, their assistants each have MAs, and the number of basic errors in the newsletter is mindblowing.

  43. Dover*

    LW1, my office is the exception and I really like it. Our policy is that personal appointments on Outlook calendars are respected, so everyone puts them on. Nobody is obligated to say what the appointment is or even to share appointment names generally, but some people choose to. Thus when scheduling with someone you might notice something they’ve got coming up or that just happened and make small talk about it. It’s how I leaned a coworker is an avid astrophotographer and another goes to visit his family in Brazil every year.

  44. kiki*

    LW #1: I’d generally say no to commenting on personal calendar events unless you are very close to the coworker whose event you want to comment on. My biggest exception, though, would be if you see a coworker posting events you are very certain they would not want anyone to know the title of. For example, I synced my personal and work calendars so I could have times blocked off. I didn’t realize you had to set your personal calendar’s privacy settings so the work calendar wouldn’t show the details. I was apparently sharing the first and last day of my period as calendar events every month for at at least a year. I was the only woman on a team of entirely cis men, so I am curious what they thought about that. I would have appreciated if somebody had given me a quick– “hey, might want to share your privacy settings on personal calendar events!”

    1. Yeah...*

      Assuming they noticed at all, that conversation sounds like an HR minefield they wisely opted to say nothing to you about.

  45. MCMonkeyBean*

    Our office is in a similar boat as #3–though we are at least only expected to go into the office a few times per week now. Like OP, half of my team are classified as permanently remote so all communication would still be over Teams and Zoom.

    I told my boss this was a really big issue for me and she tried to support me but there wasn’t much we could do. I ended up taking a risk and disclosing my ADHD and applying for reclassification to remote an official accommodation and so far that has been working out for me.

  46. Bee*

    I did offer to edit principal communications at one school and was told by the principal that I should mind my own business because she was my superior. She had been a business major in school, and I had been a lowly English major — what did I know about professional, grammatically correct communications?!

    I ended up telling my complaining students that she made deliberate mistakes to see who was paying attention in my class. I let them edit her messages for extra credit.

  47. MagicEyes*

    My life has been ruined because someone came to work while they had mono, so I got it and now I have chronic fatigue. So no, don’t come to work when you have mono, and don’t bring your mono-infested children to work. :-(

  48. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    Argh, LW2. You can’t violate the privacy of someone by sharing information they posted on a public or quasi-public forum. Your supervisor is a very silly person. I’d be curious what their response would be if you pointed out that your organization would have a hard time meeting its goals if a bunch of people got strep and/or mono.

  49. BellyButton*

    I would be mad enough if someone brought a child with a common cold, but Mono and strep are both highly contagious. When my adult cousin got mono, it resulted in kidney inflammation and a ruptured spleen. Mono is serious. I also can’t imagine how tired that poor kid is, they need to be in bed resting.

  50. Elephant in the bathroom*

    Hard stop, don’t comment on your supervisor’s personal calendar appointments, OP #1. Slightly different, but my former supervisor used to constantly comment on my personal calendar appointments, and it drove me absolutely batty. I couldn’t block her from seeing my calendar as just busy/free due to workplace policies, and marking appointments as private meant they would not give me phone alerts before they happened (which I’d done in the past, and missed an appointment).

    Then she became not my supervisor anymore and I was able to change her view to busy/free, and she noticed I had done so within 5 minutes and asked me about it. She made it a whole thing; luckily my new supervisor had my back and told her to cut it out. It was absurd, she had no reason to watch my calendar that closely, even when she was my supervisor. But life has been a lot more peaceful without weird comments about whether I’d remembered to give my dog her heartworm preventative, or gross insinuations about what happens on “date night” with my partner.

  51. Let Sick Kids Stay Home*

    LW #2: Please, please, please go to someone higher up about this. Mono is INCREDIBLY contagious and the range of reactions to it, immunocompromised or not, can really vary. There is someone on our team who has mono and it put her on bedrest and leave for 6 months before she could start doing half-days, part-time. Hers was definitely an extreme end of the symptoms spectrum, but it can easily put people completely unable to do anything but sleep for weeks on end. It is putting a lot of people at risk, and if I was a coworker or a parent bringing my child in, I would want to know so I could skip that day.

  52. L. Bennett*

    LW 1 – Please don’t comment on people’s personal appointments in their calendars unless they specifically bring it up to you. If someone did that to me, I’d feel really creeped out.

    If you want to mention to them that those personal appointments are visible, depending on your relationship, that might be okay to give them a heads-up, but dropping into conversation that you saw they were going to X Restaurant would feel invasive, even if you didn’t go digging for that information. It would be like alerting someone to the fact that their fly was down or something by being like “nice underwear!” instead of discretely letting them know about the situation in a direct way.

    1. Bacu1a*

      I just had someone I manage ask about a personal happy hour on my calendar and asked if she and the rest of the office was invited! It really irritated me.

  53. Dr. Rebecca*

    LW1, I sync my work calendar to my personal one (instead of the other way around) for exactly this reason. It’s no one’s business how I’m spending my busy time.

    1. Elephant in the bathroom*

      They stopped allowing this at my workplace for data security reasons about 4 years ago, and I was the most mad I’d ever been at work.

  54. eisa*

    LW #4
    “but as a school, I think this reflects poorly on us”
    Minority opinion here, but yes, I would say it absolutely does.

    Pointing it out to your boss directly might not be in your best interest, though.
    Is there someone who has an especially good relationship with her or “her ear” in general (her assitant perhaps ?) who you also trust ?
    In this case, I’d casually mention to that person “did you notice, our newsletters are filled with so many errors, I wonder what the parents must think of it.”
    Depending on this hypothetical person’s reaction, you can then give a nudge like “maybe someone should say something to Sansa, like, very tactfully .. ?”

  55. Avril Ludgateaux*


    Bring Your Child to Work Day was last week… I hope there is an update and that the coworker did not bring their sick child. I know people can be flippant about common contagious diseases, but it goes beyond the immediate risks of (the highly contagious) mono and strep – mono is caused by the Epstein-Barr virus and increasingly we are finding long term, systemic consequences in EBV patients – links to cancers, MS, etc. Similar to other herpesviruses, it can also “reactivate”, especially at times of immune weakness (the way chicken pox can reactivate as shingles, or cold sores and periodic HSV outbreaks). Reading this letter made me feel viscerally nervous, and I’m not even in that office or immunocompromised.

    (I think the HIPAA misunderstanding was the supervisor trying to suggest that the OP cannot divulge the employee’s child’s private medical information, e.g. by warning others that she’s communicably sick. I don’t think HIPAA applies but there is an ethical expectation of privacy and may even be an office rule — but things get hazy when “privacy” puts others at risk.)

    1. HonorBox*

      I think there’s grey area if Karen had told OP privately, or just in conversation between the two that the child was sick. But it was on Slack. Any expectation of privacy is out the window.

      Plus, as you said, the ethical need to warn others is important. If my child was also attending, I’d want to know.

      1. Observer*

        I think there’s grey area if Karen had told OP privately, or just in conversation between the two that the child was sick

        Nope. Sure, if someone tells you something privately, you have more of a moral obligation. But *Legally*? Nope. It only applies if you come by this information through your work in a health related capacity (eg provider of services, billing insurance, approving payments) or if you access such information without permission and need to know.

        If someone is just a general snoop or has no discretion about what people tell them? It can (and often should be) a seriously limiting move, but it’s not illegal.

    2. I have RBF*

      IIRC there are even public disclosure rules around contagious diseases that are exceptions to HIPAA. It’s been a while since I went down the HIPAA vs public health rabbit hole, so it may have shifted.

  56. Queen of Snax*

    The first question can be answered simply with: how well do you know your coworkers? I would absolutely ask certain coworkers about a restaurant block, and we often do check each other’s calendars if we’re sending meeting invites or scheduling clients together, so it wouldn’t be a secret. Coworker I just met or rarely interact with? Probably won’t ask until I know them better, if it even comes up

  57. DivergentStitches*

    #3 hopefully the other team members on the call when Karen announced her kids’ sickies have spread it far and wide that everyone should avoid her kid on the day.

    #4 IMO companies are requiring return to office because they have to justify their real estate holdings. Also IMO, there should be a nationwide movement to turn all of those empty high rises into affordable housing, and companies should get tax breaks for selling their high rises for that movement.

    1. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I really like your IMO for #4. We are in a housing crisis. I’ve seen old manufacturing facilities and warehouses turned into apartments (I live in a Rust Belt city), why not offices?

      1. Relentlessly Socratic*

        This is also my IMO, and I know that office buildings aren’t built with residency in mind, but we surely could make retrofitting happen.

  58. Pogo*

    OP1: I had an employee who commented on some things on my calendar I didn’t realize were not completely private and it was very off-putting to me. Even though they were just like…going to do this this weekend and not medical or secret or anything. It’s weird to bring up something that wasn’t told to you specifically and looks like the person was stalking your schedule. If the person with the calendar events wanted to talk to you about it, they would.

  59. Hiring Mgr*

    Of course it depends on the relationship between the teacher and principal in #1, but on the surface it doesn’t seem like a big overstep (i’ve done things like this with bosses, and have been fine when i’ve been on the receiving end)

    If the newsletter got the day or time wrong for the upcoming dance or baseball game, that wouldn’t be a big deal to correct, right? I think it’s kind of the same thing here.

  60. SleeplessKJ*

    LW4 – does the principal not have an admin? I worked in schools for over 20 years and in my experience, the admin would be the person to go to with this kind of situation. (S)he’s the one to inform the boss that their typos are of concern and is the one that should offer to proofread before things get sent out.

  61. HonorBox*

    OP2 – I skipped right to comment, so please forgive me if there’s anything that’s already been said by many others..
    Your boss is an idiot and you absolutely should go above or around them. There is NO NEED for a sick child to come in to the office. I might even give them a pass with strep if they’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours. I’ve seen doctors giving the OK for a kid to go back to school personally, so that’s maybe something that doesn’t need to be disclosed. But mono takes a bit of time. A person can be contagious for 2-4 weeks generally, but sometimes longer. Not even considering anyone who works there who has suppressed immune systems, the exposure to all the kids is dangerous and reckless.
    Also, I can’t imagine a person diagnosed with mono feeling like they would even want to be there for a take your child to work day. The poor child is probably going to be tired and miserable. That’s not fair to them, nor is it fair to anyone else who is around them.
    Especially because there’s a “home” option, this shouldn’t even be a conversation. But even without that option, this child shouldn’t be there.

    And your manager also sucks for suggesting this is a HIPAA violation. Karen disclosed it. Even if you worked in healthcare, Karen disclosed it.

  62. Eeyore's Missing Tale*

    LW 1- I used to manage my supervisor’s calendar. There are very few reasons I would comment on personal appointments in the work calendar. I did once. I learned about a data breach at a local medical clinic when watching the news that morning and later that day, I saw my boss had an appointment there later that week. That was the only time because I assumed he would want to know and didn’t know if office had notified him yet. Beyond that, just leave it be.

  63. Liz the Snackbrarian*

    LW 2: If you have good HR and think you’d be safe from retaliation, you could consider contacting them regardless. Your boss is showing a lack of common sense and frankly compassion. There is also the misinformation about HIPPA element, and while that is unlikely to be the biggest concern your employer has, it’s not ideal. That said, I completely understand why you wouldn’t want to go that route.

  64. SereneScientist*

    Letter 4 is bringing some incredibly awful and rigid attitudes about grammar, literacy, and families-as-clients lens in education out in the comment section. Who knew!

    1. NotAnotherManager!*

      I know, how unreasonable to expect the people in charge of educating your children to know basic grammar, homonyms, and pluralization. Just crazy – next, we’ll start expecting electricians to know how to replace outlets and turn the circuit breaker off be before starting a job. Or the vet to know animal anatomy!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This is like saying the head of a publishing company needs to be able to write beautiful books. They don’t. Principal and teacher are two very different jobs. (On top of which, we’re constantly asking schools to do more with less, so it’s unrealistic on top of everything else.)

        Look, I love words and writing. I used to proofread professionally. I have trained proofreaders. I notice mistakes in other people’s writing. All else being equal, of course a school should proofread communications to parents, just as any organization should proofread public communications.

        But it is not an outrage that it’s not happening, particularly at this time of severely under-resourced schools.

        And saying that it reflects on the principal’s competence is just demonstrably untrue if you look at the work a principal is actually measured on.

        1. New Jack Karyn*

          One thing I would add/change to your original advice would be that a principal’s boss does not care even a little bit about the copy-editing of a weekly newsletter. Unless it contained F-bombs, inappropriate references to drugs or sex, or physical threats, no one at the district office cares.

          I do think that OP can address it, though! Owning it as a “me problem”, offering to take a swipe at it, taking an almost apologetic tone–such an approach might work.

  65. Essess*

    #2 – I would have told the boss that it would be a HUGE PR nightmare if word got out that our company was the source of a superspreader event of mono and strep because of knowingly allowing a sick child to attend an event, especially knowing that it would be attended by many others who were assured in the FAQ that sick children were to remain home.

    1. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Good point about how this is forcing attendees to handle a level of risk that they were told they wouldn’t. The FAQ said not to bring sick kids. It’s reasonable to assume that no visibly sick kids will be there. (Obviously, people can be contagious before they get symptoms). People may have used that information to decide whether to participate. Then they show up and the event is riskier than they were told to expect.

  66. MicroManagered*

    OP1 I think it depends on context. If you are close friends with someone at work, both where you would have a work-related reason to look at their calendar and a personal relationship where you might discuss activities outside of work, I don’t think it would be weird to say “Oh I saw you have a happy hour at XYZ restaurant on your calendar when I was looking for a time to book the BlahBlah meeting — how was it?”

    It would also be normal and ok to me if a colleague commented on a particularly busy meeting day for me, like “I was looking for a time to book the BlahBlah meeting and saw that your Thursday is just back-to-back!” as in, that sucks that you are so busy.

    What you want to avoid is giving the impression that you are checking up on coworkers or being nosy. If you had no reason to be poking around in their calendar, or if you are repeatedly asking about something way in the past/future, or always asking about every personal appointment, it’s going to look that way. A good practice in general is: when in doubt, mind your own business.

  67. It's All Elementary*

    RE Letter #4: Our district has an Principal at the junior high level and his grammar and spelling is atrocious. I would love to do Allison’s mark up trick, but working in the district would probably not leave me in good graces with anyone, but, oh how I wanted to! I have always wondered why he doesn’t have his secretary proofread his emails and/or social media posts before hitting send.

  68. LW2 - sick kid*

    Writer of letter #2 here with an update.

    I am not 100% sure if Karen brought the sick child in or not. The “compromise” proposed by our manager was that she bring the child in and just not visit our work area. (we have a multi-building campus). Several of the employees who had complained did WFH that day, but that will count against them as we only get a set number of WFH days per month.

    For those of you in the comments who thing the HIPAA comment was simply “I am going to say this and hope it shuts you up” that is 100000% what I think his intent was. I also later found out he told the employee with the health condition that their condition was not covered by the ADA and it definitely is. So that is another serious error in judgement. I wish I could say this is not a pattern of behavior, but bad judgement does seem to be common here.

    On to the WORST part of the update. We did in fact have a viral outbreak related to Bring your Child to Work Day. It wasn’t strep, it wasn’t mono, it was norovirus. The planners of this event decided that rather than cater sandwiches for the kids like they’ve done in years past, they would just set the children loose on the employee cafeteria. While we cannot say with certainty that the norovirus outbreak was caused by a child, it seems too much of a coincidence. The health department cleared all of the food service workers from being the source. Dozens of employees got sick, some so badly they reported going to the hospital. So we did have a major health crisis, just not related to that particular coworker/child.

    Whew. It’s been a wild ride.

    1. Coco*

      Holy cannoli! This update is just terrible. Terrible because your boss sucks, terrible because people who stayed home are being punished, and terrible because so many other people got sick. Do not trust your boss with anything like this ever again. Jump right over their head and go to someone higher (ideally someone with more common sense).

    2. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

      Thanks for the update, though I’m sorry things went so sideways. I’ve had norovirus and it was awful. Took weeks to recover and my worst phase of the illness was the first 12 hours.

    3. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      There are no letters in the alphabet that can spell the noise I made when I got to the norovirus outbreak. My condolences on… lord, pretty much your whole workplace. D:

    4. NotAnotherManager!*

      The employee with the health condition should report that comment to anyone in HR who seems to have their wits about them. Sounds like the manager needs some ADA education before he exposes the company to liability.

    5. Heidi*

      What a discouraging update. Telling someone they don’t have an ADA covered diagnosis when they do is really harmful if it prevents people from getting accommodations they need.

    6. Observer*

      So we did have a major health crisis, just not related to that particular coworker/child.


      But nor surprising. As you said, there seems to be a real pattern of bad judgement going on here.

      I hope you’re looking for a new job…

    7. MEH Squared*

      Oh, wow. That’s terrible! I was actually thinking about the norovirus outbreak letter as I read this post, but I’m so sorry you had to deal with an actual one. Your manager is terrible and whoever decided to let the kids in the cafeteria don’t look great, either. I hope you’re doing ok, all things considered.

  69. too many dogs*

    For LW #2: My sympathy is for the child. I’ve had Mono, and I’ve had Strep, but not both together, thankfully. All of the adults are arguing about how THEY will feel, but what about our sick little kid? This child didn’t get a vote here, but is being dragged, feeling miserable, to an event that they can’t possibly enjoy.

    1. Emotional support capybara (he/him)*

      Yep. I had strep once and it was the most miserable experience of my entire life. Let the poor kid rest ffs.

  70. Veryanon*

    That second letter…come on, man. If I were the OP, I’d contact whoever is organizing the event and let them know. I hope Karen (apt name!) did not end up bringing her very sick child to the event. Besides the obvious issues of exposing all those people to the child’s germs, I’m sure the child wouldn’t get much out of the event when they feel like half-baked crap. Karen fails both the good employee and the good parent test.

  71. cardigarden*

    LW 2: Your coworker is really not thinking. When I had mono, I was bed-ridden for a whole month and needed to take naps after mild exertion for the next 2, even though other people I know had mild symptoms and were back to normal in a few days. And strep can be dangerous for adults. It’s inconsiderate of you and the rest of the staff and their kids.

  72. Problem!*

    LW 1:

    My boss shared her calendar with her reports for ease of scheduling stuff and had Peloton workouts carved out on her calendar. I mentioned I saw she had those workouts daily on her calendar asked if she liked it/thought it was worth it or not because I was considering one and it wasn’t weird. Should probably be noted that she was tech savvy and had some time slots blocked out with no info so she definitely knew how to mark things private as needed. I think it was a subtle way to encourage work/life balance by publicly having non-work stuff on her calendar to be honest. If it was something like a doctor’s appointment then obviously that would be weird to comment on.

    So I guess it really depends on if you can tell with a reasonable certainty that the calendar owner knows non-work calendar events are public or not and if they intentionally left them visible.

    1. Relentlessly Socratic*

      My former boss also shared her full calendar with me for scheduling and such (so if she was running late to a meeting with a client I could see if she were double booked=might not join vs. abutting meetings=quick comfort break before joining). And, yes, she labeled some personal things “private” and others were just in there, like take Snoopy in for a grooming.

      I had a Jr staffer elsewhere who had all of her calendar open to everyone. I let her know that she might want to lock it down, because EVERYTHING was in there. And, if one is using the meeting scheduler, I only need to know she’s busy or OOO, not that she’s going to the dentist.

  73. Jack Straw from Wichita*

    When I taught HS English, I gave students extra credit if they brought me print outs of correctly edited social media posts. By the end of the year we had a bulletin board full of them, with the names redacted, of course.

  74. Observer*

    #1 – Comments on the calendar.

    I want to echo all of the people who are telling you to NOT do this.

    Also, what on earth do you think you will accomplish with this? If it’s just curiosity, please remind yourself that “I’m just curious” is not a good reason for being intrusive. If you actually have a solid purpose for asking, figure out a different way of accomplishing whatever it is.

    As someone who has been working really hard on getting people to put stuff in their calendars, this question kind of upsets me. Because one of the reasons that people don’t want to do this is because they don’t want people to see where they are going on their time out of the office. I keep on telling them that they can set that stuff to private. And they often say that they are afraid that they will forget to mark it. And yes, they should mark it private, but people sometime forget. If anyone actually asked one of these people about a private event that they forgot to mark properly? They would be going right back to not putting this stuff in their calendars.

    1. allathian*

      I put my work stuff on my Outlook calendar and private stuff on my Google calendar for evenings, weekends, and other absences. On workdays I put private appointments on the work calendar, especially during our core hours of 9-3, but I always mark them private. I make a point of marking an appointment private before writing it, that way there’s no way I’ll accidentally post it as public.

      I’m quite proud of the way I got a former manager to start flagging her personal appointments on her shared calendar as private with some judicious managing up. We had a good relationship so I could ask her about her habit of posting all appointments publicly. We have a lot of flexibility and for the vast majority of employees who aren’t working coverage-based jobs we’re basically expected to attend the meetings we’ve agreed to attend and can take time off in the middle of the day as long as we mark it on our calendar. She’s retired now but for most of her career she had to ask her manager for permission to leave the office for an appointment, which is no longer the case as long as we get our job done.

      I was genuinely curious rather than judgmental when I asked. She said that she did it so that everyone would know that she had a good reason for being OOO. I said that when I looked at her calendar, all I wanted to know was her availability and that it didn’t make any difference to me if she took a long lunch for a medical appointment or to go shopping. I also pointed out that she’d never asked me why I was absent during the middle of the day, and that I hoped that would be the case going forward as well. She got the point and started flagging her personal appointments as private.

  75. El l*

    If they offer to let you proofread, sure. If not, let them stand and fall on their own mistakes. It will reflect more on them than you or the rest of your institution.

    And whatever our teachers taught us when young, those mistakes are low grade. I once had a CEO who used Excel as his word processor.

    Also, OP1, don’t ever comment on a colleague’s calendar. I think everyone involved would rather it were not seen.

  76. Fleur-de-Lis*

    LW#2 – my sibling had a moderate case of mono in middle school and was diagnosed with MS as an adult. The correlation between the Epstein-Barr virus, which causes mono, and later MS is absolutely there in the scientific literature, and your colleague is a total jerkface who is endangering everyone by bringing their sick child to work. Shame on them. I hope that you reported it to the event organizer.

  77. Marzipan Shepherdess*

    LW2: Let alone the danger to her coworkers, the lack of concern for HER OWN CHILD being shown by the mother blithely insisting on bringing that poor kid to work is staggering. Either strep OR mono is miserable – I can’t imagine wanting to crawl out of bed if you have both! And she wanted to drag her seriously ill child into the office?!

    I only hope that she at least has a partner or spouse with the sense to say “No, you are NOT taking our child anywhere! I’LL stay off work to take care of them, but they’re not going anywhere except to the pediatrician. Enjoy your day at work, but you’re going alone!”

  78. TurnedMeIntoANewt*

    Wtf?! No, someone can’t bring a sick kid to work, especially mono. Even if there wasn’t an immunocompromised person on staff, this is still horrible. Mono can knock people out for weeks and weeks. Can you imagine if half a department got it? And with someone who is known to have health issues all the more so.

    I can’t imagine the sick kid will be particularly excited about attending either. When my classmates got mono they were miserable even once they were “healthy enough” to go to school.

  79. Texas Teacher*

    LW 2 Just want to say you are 100% right. That child should be at home in bed recovering. I don’t have kids and I would be so mad if I discovered my boss knowingly exposed us to a contagious child. It isn’t just the people present that might get sick. But I can almost guarantee you that of those 450 kids – most of them have a cancer patient, or other type of immune-compromised kid at their schools. Including the sick kid who is probably being sent to school because her mom doesn’t care.

    I am kind of the opposite of your coworker. I have a history of being an asymptomatic carrier of strep. I nearly landed my little sister in the hospital – but the doctor figured out I was the source of Sis’s back-to-back cases of strep that had gone on most of the fall semester. Since then I get tested if I know I’ve been exposed. My BIL has cancer so it is very important to not expose him. I was also 1 of 2 members of my drill team to not get Mono after a team trip to Greece

  80. noname1234567*

    LW #2: The only way to address this now while still maintaining a decent relationship with your boss is to tell your coworkers who are angry about the sick child coming to TYCTWD exactly what happened: “My supervisor told me that it was out of my lane to tell Karen that she can’t bring her child to TYCTWD. Therefore, there’s nothing I personally can do about it. The only way to stop this would be for other coworkers to talk to HR.” And leave it at that. Hopefully your coworkers will approach HR directly and leave you out of it. And you should call in sick on TYCTWD or telework that day.

  81. Luna*

    WTF is wrong with the boss from LW2? You want to allow a child with two VERY contagious illnesses into the office, possibly infecting everyone? That means your staff is gonna be gone all at once for a while, boss, the term ‘understaffed’ and ‘skeleton crew’ will be a mockery. And that’s not counting the non-employees that might get sick. Pretty sure staff is gonna be royally annoyed to learn that their kid caught strep or mono (if not both) from someone else’s kid, that they knew were sick, at work. It’s a storm of WTF-ery that the boss were to summon upon themself.

    Call it petty, I would hone in on Karen as soon as she came in that day and ask if she really did bring her sick child. I don’t care how many other colleagues will hear that, but if she did, everyone needs to know what she did. And what the boss allowed.

  82. Cam*

    I was on the wrong side of LW1’s issue and was very upset about it: I did not specifically have calendar visibility open, and HR (who I rarely interact with) tried to schedule me to interview someone in conflict with something I’d blocked out for parenting purposes, with commentary about how I could clearly move the calendar block (referencing the title of the event). I only found out then that they had global privileges on people’s calendars.

    I currently keep the habit of random evening and after hours recurring meetings with concerning/interesting titles as a canary trap for snoopers.

  83. Cam*

    For the sick kid, it’s worth noting that once someone has been on antibiotics for strep for 24 hours, they’re not expected to be contagious anymore, and mono normally requires sharing saliva (kissing or sharing cups) to transmit. Mono is also long lasting enough that it’s not necessarily usual or practical to exclude mild cases from school/community, if the patient has the energy to participate.
    There’s an undeniable ick factor, and I have questions about the parent’s judgement, but if they’d quietly conferred with the child and their doctor and decided that community exclusion was not necessary (rather than icking out the coworkers) I wouldn’t be upset about it.

  84. Former_Employee*

    Karen is a particular kind of selfish witch who was probably all “me, me, me” before she had kids. Now it’s all “my, my, my” as in “my kid”.

    If anyone gets sick, I hope they sue her because she did this knowingly.

    As far as the boss is concerned, the fact that he would raise “HIPAA” as an issue shows he’s a complete fool and his defense of Karen indicates he’s also a total tool.

    Perhaps it’s time for the OP to re-evaluate their workplace situation.

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