Students are headed back to class amid the coronavirus pandemic, and to keep you posted on what’s unfolding throughout U.S. schools — K-12 as well as colleges — Yahoo Life is running a weekly wrap-up featuring news bites, interviews and updates on the ever-unfolding situation.
Students get in trouble for displaying Trump flags in Zoom classes
“Trump 2020” flags that are visible in virtual classes are causing distractions. On Tuesday, a student at Southridge High School in Kennewick, Wash., alleged he or she was dismissed from class when the teacher saw a flag on the wall that read, “Trump 2020 No More Bulls***,” according to KEPR-TV, which interviewed the child’s parents, who chose to remain anonymous.
The parents say the teacher of the English course “Sports in Literature” first raised objections in a personal chat message with the student, but he or she did not see it. Then the student was removed from the class. “It’s an unfortunate situation. If they were in school, this would not have happened,” the parents told KEPR-TV.
A representative of the Kennewick School District tells Yahoo Life, “We are aware of the allegations. The school administrators are in the process of doing their due diligence by conducting an investigation with staff and students to get all the facts.”
The alleged incident follows one in Texas. Edwin Prew, whose daughter attends eighth grade at the United Independent School District in Laredo, told KGNS-TV that her principal objected to a “Trump 2020” flag (hung alongside an American flag) on her wall.
Related: Colusa teacher kicks student out of virtual class over Trump flag
“All of a sudden we get a phone call saying, ‘Hey, your flag [has] to come down’ — you know, claims saying that our flags were offensive,” he said. “So I asked her in what shape or form are they offensive. And she said, ‘Well, we had a parent complaint about the fact that your background, that you have the American flag and you have the Donald Trump flag.’”
Prew refused to remove the flag, claiming its message was neutral. “I did contact our Republican Party and I have contacted the state attorney general’s office and we will take this further because there is simply an infringement to our rights,” he told KGNS-TV.
A spokesperson from the UISD tells Yahoo Life of the Sept. 10 incident: “It is the practice of UISD not to discriminate based on viewpoint, and to apply content-neutral rules and regulations that neither endorse nor oppose a particular viewpoint, lest there be a material or substantial disruption to the learning environment.”
The district does not ask families to “take down” political signs in their own homes, added the spokesperson. “We simply request that all student backgrounds while in the virtual environment be clear of any displays that could cause a substantial disruption to the learning environment.”
And a California mother named Tiffany (who did not want her last name published) told CBS Sacramento that she and her son addressed the Colusa High School school board on Monday after his teacher threatened to kick him out of virtual class for a “Keep America Great” flag on his wall. The news station aired a recording, allegedly of the teacher giving the student a 10-second countdown to follow orders, before he voluntarily logged out of class.
The University of Notre Dame cancels spring break, following dozens of other schools
On Wednesday, the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., announced it was canceling spring break. The school “plans to begin the 2021 spring semester with in-person classes Feb. 3, forgo spring break and end classes May 11, university president Rev. John I. Jenkins said in a news release. “The start of the semester will be three weeks later than originally scheduled and classes will end two weeks later. “
The university is following a higher education trend. A spokesperson from the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system tells Yahoo Life that four state universities (Central Connecticut State, Southern Connecticut State, Western Connecticut State and Eastern Connecticut State) have canceled spring break. And the University of Michigan, the Ohio State University, the University of Iowa, the University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky, the University of Florida and dozens more have followed suit, according to ABC News.
This year, many kids went forward with college spring break plans that were later linked to COVID-19 outbreaks. And a June study from Ball State and Vanderbilt universities found an increase in campus infections two weeks after spring break.
Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, previously told Yahoo Life: “Spring break is going to involve [the] mixing of people from schools doing things that aren’t conducive to social distancing. Trying to limit exposure that individuals might have on spring break and keeping campuses as closed as possible is the best way to prevent outbreaks.”
Police charge parents who hosted a teen party that delayed a school opening
A Massachusetts teen and his parents who hosted an alcohol-fueled party for at least 50 people that caused a local high school to delay in-person classes have been criminally charged, the Sudbury Police Department announced Tuesday.
The parents and their teenager were accused of furnishing alcohol to minors, the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office tells Yahoo Life. The charges were filed under the Massachusetts Social Host Law, which states that anyone “who is in control of the premises and who furnishes alcohol or allows it to be consumed on those premises” can be fined or imprisoned or both.
Police Chief Scott Nix sent Yahoo Life a statement detailing the Sept. 11 bash where minors were drinking and alcohol containers littered the property. Officers said that guests ignored state-mandated social distancing and mask guidelines, and several made “threatening comments” toward them.
The Sudbury Board of Health contributed to the investigation. On Sept. 13, the health department shared in a news release that students ran from the party or gave false identifying information to the responding officers. Although there were no known positive COVID-19 cases among the attendees, the community risk for viral spread was unknown. In conjunction with the health department, Lincoln-Sudbury Regional High School, where many of the teens attended, decided to delay the Sept. 15 start of in-person classes.
The Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School District did not immediately respond to Yahoo Life’s request for comment. On Sept. 15, without referencing specifics, Principal Bella Wong shared a note about the new school year, writing, “Making mistakes is an inevitable part of life” and “Let what happened be a warning call to act responsibly, and look to what is ahead of us.”
This month, another Massachusetts party forced a school online: Dover-Sherborn Public Schools delayed its Sept. 15 hybrid classes until Sept. 21 due to a house party with up to 150 attendees, superintendent Andrew W. Keough said in a Sept. 14 letter. “As someone who grew up in this town and was known to appreciate a good time, I understand that these young people were most likely just finding a way to be together … as far away from adults as possible,” he wrote. “However, these are not ordinary times. In choosing to flout the rules set down by society in the pandemic, they have now put us all at risk.”
A mother is arrested at a school football game after refusing to wear a face mask
In a continuation of parents rebuffing mask mandates by filing lawsuits or organizing protests, an Ohio mother was arrested and forcibly removed from her son’s middle school football game after an escalating argument over masks.
On Wednesday, Ohio police arrested Alecia D. Kitts at her son’s football game at Logan High School when she refused to wear a mask. According to a statement sent to Yahoo Life by the Logan Police Department, school resource officer Chris Smith was present to make sure fans complied with guidelines and policies from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ohio Health Department, the Ohio Athletic Association and the Logan-Hocking School District. One is that spectators must wear masks on school property.
According to the department, Smith asked Kitts to wear a mask, but she continually refused, explaining that she has asthma, so he eventually threatened to charge her with trespassing. When Smith tried to handcuff Kitts, she wouldn’t cooperate and, after a struggle, she was tased and arrested. Kitts is charged with criminal trespassing, with pending charges against her and another woman involved in the incident.
“It is important to note, the female was not arrested for failing to wear a mask, she was asked to leave the premises for continually violating school policy,” the police said in the statement. “Once she refused to leave the premises, she was advised she was under arrest for criminal trespassing, she resisted the arrest, which led to the use of force. This is an unfortunate incident for everyone involved.”
A viral video of the arrest was posted to YouTube.
Yahoo Life could not immediately reach Kitts for comment. Logan-Hocking School District superintendent Monte Bainter tells Yahoo Life that spectators are reminded to wear face masks via stadium signs and through staff public announcements.
For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC’s and WHO’s resource guides.
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