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Washington school introduced invasive ankle bracelets for COVID tracing

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A public high school in the state of Washington was making student athletes, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear ankle monitors for the purposes of social distancing and contact tracing.

The story was brought to the spotlight by the mother of a 15-year-old girl in Eatonville High School’s volleyball team.

Speaking to The Post Millennial, the mother said that her daughter sent her a text about being asked to wear the ankle monitor. After being unable to reach her daughter again, presumably because she was playing, the mother called the school, but no one answered her questions. So she decided to go to the school where she spoke with the coach who told her that a meeting about an ankle monitoring program for students was held last week.

The device was manufactured by a tech firm called Triax. The company’s website states that the device’s purpose is to help in “maintaining social distancing guidelines” as well as “real-time insight into whether these guidelines are being observed.” The site mentions construction and manufacturing businesses as potential customers, not schools.

The device achieves its social distancing goal through “a visual and audible alarm, so individuals know when to adjust their current distance to a proper social distance.”

The device also has a feature for “passive collection of worker interactions for contact tracing should an individual test positive.”
The coach, Gavin Kralik, told the mother that if an unvaccinated student tested positive, they would have to quarantine for 14 days. The quarantine policy would not apply for vaccinated students.

The ankle monitoring policy was not included in the school district’s back-to-school documents. Additionally, the mother was not informed about the meeting, where, apparently, she would have been provided with the option to opt-out of the program.

In an interview Tuesday on The Ari Hoffman Show, the mother expressed her concern that the program would result in the discrimination of unvaccinated students, because, unlike the vaccinated students, they would have to go into isolation for 14 days.

The Eatonville School District Superintendent Gary Neal insisted that the purpose of the device was not discrimination.

Neal told The Post Millennial: “We received grant funding (known as ESSER III) that specifically included provisions to support higher-risk athletic programs, and we used some of those funds to pay for athletic proximity monitors. We are using these monitors for high contact and moderate indoor contact sports. The monitors are for both staff (coaches) and students on the field, regardless if they are vaccinated or unvaccinated. If a student or coach tests positive, we will have immediate information regarding athletes’ and coaches’ contacts, so we can more tightly determine who might need to quarantine.”

But the School Board Director Matt Marshall had a different message, saying that the school district has “shelved the devices until proper procedures including community input and board approval process occur.”

“I will fight any requirements that segregate students based on vaccination status,” he added. “I am confident the rest of my colleagues will do the same.”

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