A Hamilton Township, New Jersey, high school teacher was reportedly caught on video telling a group of teenagers at a park they should "die a long, painful death" from the coronavirus. The video was captured on Thursday and appears to show Steinert High School math teacher Nicole Griggs yelling at the teens who were playing football. One of the students filmed the scene and posted it on Snapchat before it spread to other social networks.
One teenager, a freshman at Steinert, told The Trentonian the video was filmed when he and his fiends were playing football at a park outside a former school. One student shared it on Snapchat and it was re-posted on TikTok with the caption, "Y'all Mrs Griggs is losing her damn mind how tf is she a teacher #coronavirus." Griggs told the students they could get arrested and threatened to scream over their music.
Government school teacher (to students):
"I hope both of you get the coronavirus. I hope you both die a long painful death." pic.twitter.com/8nSFGYiXUP— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) April 26, 2020
"Park's closed. The whole area," Griggs, who was out walking her dog, told the students. "Get it through your thick head. You are the reason we are in this situation. You are the problem, not the solution. Go ahead keep recording. Who are you going to show it to? Post me on social media. You're the idiot doing the wrong thing. I'm just trying to save your a— and save your life. But die, OK. I hope both of you get the coronavirus. I hope you both die a long, painful death."
The Steinert freshman who spoke with The Trentonian does not have a class with Griggs, but said his friends recognized her in the video. Another source confirmed it was Griggs, who lives within walking distance of the park. Griggs has also used social media in the past to complain about people going out and about during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Trentonian reports that Griggs used a Facebook page under the name Nikki Leigh, and published a complaint about a young couple undoing a caution tape around a jungle gym so their daughter could use it. "We are surrounded by idiots!!!!!!" she wrote, before later adding, "I totally called them out on it, wished illness on them and commented that it was scary to even think they were parents. Their response: 'We were going to put it back.'"
Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin was not initially aware of the video, but told The Trentonian he condemned what the teacher said. "This is a very serious thing," he said. "We've got at least 50 people who have actually died from it, 50 families. It's not something to joke around about. Teacher or not, it's unacceptable."
It is not clear if Griggs will be punished for her comments. Schools superintendent Scott Rocco said he was aware of the video and they will investigate it. The teachers union did not have a comment.
According to the Hamilton Township, Mercer County website, the county has 762 confirmed coronavirus cases, 53 deaths and 170 recoveries as of Monday. New Jersey has been among the hardest-hit states, with 111,188 cases statewide and 6,044 deaths, reports NJ.com. However, there was a drop in the number of hospitalizations, with 6,407 patients being treated for the coronavirus. That is down 23 percent from the April 14 peak, when 8,293 patients were being treated.