A California professor told a student not to breastfeed her infant during a virtual class

  • A California professor told a student that she couldn't breastfeed her child during virtual class time, CNN reported. 
  • The professor sent an email to students with an attendance policy saying students must keep their microphone and camera on during instruction. 
  • This was a problem for Marcella Mares, who attends Fresno City College while taking care of her infant at home. 
  • When Mares reached out to her professor about breastfeeding her child with the camera off, he told her to "just do that after class."
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A California professor told one of her students not to breastfeed her child during virtual class time.

The student, Marcella Mares, told CNN she received an email from one of her Fresno City College professors on September 23 about an attendance protocol that obligates students to keep their microphones and camera during class.

For Mares, who wanted to breastfeed her baby, that was a problem.

She told the professor that she would keep the microphone and camera on during class, as required, but will need to turn it off when "she needs to breastfeed her daughter," according to email exchanges she showed CNN and other news outlets.

"I am glad to hear that you can have your camera and microphone on, but please do not breastfeed your daughter during class time because it is not what you should be doing," the professor told Mares in an email viewed by CNN. "Just do that after class."

In a Facebook post, Mares said that despite the response, she still attended his class about 30 minutes later.

"The first thing he says to the whole class in our zoom meeting was, 'I got this really weird email from a student stating she needed to do inappropriate things during lecture time," Mares wrote. "'You guys need to understand that you have priorities now and you need to put all those distractions aside or be creative when your child needs you and give your full attention in my class.'"

Mares told CNN that other professors had been supportive when it came to breastfeeding during class time. According to the outlet, the professor apologized to Mares on September 26 after she reached out to the school's Title IX office. 

"I am sorry for the inconvenience in regard to your intention of breastfeeding your baby," the professor wrote in an email viewed by CNN." From now on, you have the right to breastfeed your baby at any given time during class, which includes doing group worksheet, listening to the lecture, and taking the quiz or exam. You may turn off your camera at any given time as needed."

Fresno City College Public Information Officer Kathy Bonilla told CNN that the professor changed his policy after learning they may have run afoul of California law.

"California law requires that schools accommodate students for conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth including lactation," Bonilla said. "The accommodation includes providing the time away from class to breastfeed without academic penalty."

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