Many insane developments have prompted people to do uncharacteristic things since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year-and-a-half ago, and we can only wonder when — or if — all of this will ever come to an end.
This time, we look to Mesquite Elementary School in Tuscon, Arizona, where one father reportedly threatened to make a citizens’ arrest of principal Diane Vargo for demanding his son stay at home and quarantine for at least a week after coming in contact with someone who had tested positive for the coronavirus.
According to a report Friday in The Washington Post, a school employee contacted the child’s father to notify him that his son would need to quarantine, but when the father arrived on campus, school administrators were in for a surprise.
John Carruth, superintendent of the Vail United School District, told the Post that the father walked into Mesquite Elementary School with his son — and two other men carrying zip ties. They confronted Vargo over the quarantine policy, he said.
Carruth said that in an exchange between the child’s father and the principal, the men threatened to “call local authorities” and make a “citizens’ arrest” if Vargo did not allow the boy to return to the classroom.
The principal refused. Instead, she ordered the trio of men to leave, saying the school abided by the local health department’s guidelines, according to the Post.
The three men left the scene shortly after.
The father was arrested later that day, and Vargo said Tucson police were pursuing charges against the other two men, according to The Associated Press.
“I felt violated that they were in my office claiming I was breaking the law and they were going to arrest me,” the principal said in a video statement released by the school district, according to the AP. “Two of the men weren’t parents at our school, so I felt threatened.”
“Today was a tough day,” Carruth told the Post.
“One of the most powerful tools as adults is the behavior that we model to young people — and the behavior that was modeled today makes me really sad,” he said.
This is just one of many instances of pushback in response to the increasingly uncompromising COVID-19 protocols we’ve seen in American schools since March 2020.
Procedures have shifted from online learning to in-person learning with forced social distancing and mask mandates to hybrid learning and so on.
Many parents are nearing their wits’ end.
It’s no wonder many of us are growing anxious, wondering if there will ever be that light at the end of the tunnel.
After all, it’s been dangled before us to incentivize certain behaviors time and again (remember “15 days to flatten the curve” and “get vaccinated to end the pandemic”?).
But the point remains.
I don’t condone the actions these men took against this principal, nor do I say others should do anything similar.
I say this is the side effect of a vehement disagreement, an enraged exhaustion brought on by this “new normal” that is set to become the “forever normal” at this rate.
Children are growing up in a world where they believe freedom and safety come from distancing yourself from others, masks and social distancing are a way of life and rules should be abided by without daring to ask “why” (it’s another iteration of the “because I said so” excuse).
Of course, when asking “why,” everyone should make sure the source behind the mandate or protocol offers a good reason.
Still, the appropriate approach to such protocols isn’t to storm into the school and attempt a citizens’ arrest of the principal, but to address grievances to the school board, write to administrators, gather information that supports your view and deliver it to administrators or school officials.
Children need that example of civility and information, of knowing how to get their points across in a way that is more likely to resonate with their adversaries.
It might or might not work, but children also need to know we don’t always win in life.
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