Patterico's Pontifications

8/6/2020

Viral Photo Showing Maskless Students Crowded In School Hallway Leads To Student Suspension (UPDATE ADDED)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:20 pm



[guest post by Dana]

As students across the country return to in-person classes, you would think that the issue of social distancing protocols is at the forefront of administrators’ concerns. Keeping students safe while enforcing pandemic protocols would seem to be the top priority at these schools. However, one Georgia high school principal seems more concerned about optics rather than the troubling reality at his site:

A whistleblowing student at a Georgia high school was suspended after he posted a video of fellow students crammed into a hallway between classes, many of them without masks. After he was suspended, North Paulding County high school principal Gabe Carmona made an announcement over the school intercom, warning that “Anything that is going on on social media that is negative on our light… there will be consequences for both students or anyone who sends out those pictures, so please be careful.”

Here are the photos that got 15-year old Hannah Watters suspended:

Watters also posted a tally list of students wearing masks in her classes v. those not wearing masks:

Watters explained the reasoning behind her suspension:

I used my phone in the hallway without permission, used my phone for social media, and posting pictures of minors without consent.

Prior to schools reopening, the school district addressed questions about social distancing and mask-wearing in their Back to School 2020-2021 Supplemental Q & A sheet for parents and students, including informing parents that wearing a mask was a “personal choice” and the district would not mandate that students wear them. The district also said that social distancing efforts would be made when “feasible and practical”.

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The district superintendent, addressing the publication of the photo, attempted to add context:

The district superintendent, Brian Otott, sent a message to parents in the wake of the photo. He offered “context” for the photograph: “Class changes that look like this may happen, especially at a high school with more than 2,000 students.” There was little the district could do, he said, beyond encouraging masks.

Additionally:

According to a person familiar with North Paulding High School, the plan shared with teachers said hallways were supposed to be one-way; the photograph was taken in one of the only two-laned hallways in the school. But the one-lane hallways had their own downsides, causing students to walk long routes between classes — spending more time in exposed common areas.

Already in Cherokee County, Georgia, at least four schools that started in-person classes on Monday, have had positive Covid-19 cases with contact tracing. And so now, just days after the schools reopened, all students and staff impacted by the outbreak are quarantining at home.

Dr. Fauci weighed in this week on the issue of reopening schools with in-person classes:

“I think to say every child has to go back to school is not really realizing the fact that we have such a diversity of viral activity. There may some sections of the country where the viral activity is so low you don’t have to do anything different, you can just send the children back to school,” Fauci said.

“Wearing a mask, if you don’t take the infection seriously, is a tough one to sell,” Fauci said.

He then offered two reasons why he believes students should return to in-person learning if it can be done safely:

First, school reopenings are important for “the psychological welfare of the children, the fact that many children rely on schools for nutrition, for breakfast, for healthy lunches,” he said.

Second, returning to in-person classes should be a national priority in order to avoid “the unintended downstream ripple effects on families,” he said, like parents needing to interrupt or stop work in order to take care of and homeschool their children.

That “creates a big issue,” he said.

“The ‘however,'” Fauci said, “is we must not compromise the health, the safety, and the welfare of the children, of the teachers and secondarily of their parents, who they may spread it to.”

Fauci discussed the exceptions to reopening schools:

In counties and cities with very low infection rates, for example, it may be possible to “go back to school with impunity and not worry about things,” he said.

In places with moderate infection rates, however, a modified approach — like bringing kids in only some days or parts of the day and implementing mask-wearing and physical distancing — may be safest.

Oh, and then there’s this little tidbit:

North Paulding High School, about an hour outside Atlanta, reopened Monday despite an outbreak among members of its high school football team, many of whom, a Facebook video shows, worked out together in a crowded indoor gym last week as part of a weightlifting fundraiser.

Within days of that workout, several North Paulding players had tested positive for the coronavirus. The school’s parents were notified just hours before the first day of class.

And multiple teachers at North Paulding say there are positive tests among school staff, including a staff member who came into contact with most teachers at the school while exhibiting symptoms last week. Teachers and staff said the school won’t confirm coronavirus infections among district employees, citing privacy reasons.

“That was exactly one week ago, so we are all waiting to see who gets sick next week,” a North Paulding teacher told BuzzFeed News of her exposure to the virus.

I have no idea how to get high schoolers to follow social distancing measures in narrow hallways, lunch periods, etc. That is an unenviable task. But I am convinced that mandating masks for everyone on campus, including students, is a pretty good place to start.

And sadly, just this week, a 7-year-old boy in Georgia with no underlying conditions became the youngest victim to die from COVID.

UPDATE: It’s unsurprising that administration caved on the suspension. After all, the video had gone viral, and Hannah Watters received massive support from the public. Frankly, it was a ridiculous move on the part of the administration and the bad optics of their decision did them no favors:

A Georgia high school has reversed course and lifted the suspension of two students who were punished after posting photos of the school’s packed hallways when classes resumed earlier this week. North Paulding High School in Dallas, Georgia, faced national criticism over the viral photos showing students shoulder-to-shoulder, with fewer than half wearing masks.

From Hannah Watters:

“This morning my school called and they have deleted my suspension,” she wrote.

“To be 100% clear, I can go back to school on Monday. I couldn’t have done this without all the support, thank you.”

School officials provided no explanation for rescinding the suspension. Nor did they mention whether this was such a significant teaching moment for them, that they will now use their time wisely to focus on what really matters, and not their image.

–Dana

The Most 2020 Story Ever

Filed under: General — JVW @ 3:19 pm



[guest post by JVW]

The New York Post does a great job of laying out the story, so I’m going to liberally quote from them:

An Arizona State University professor who posted on Twitter for years about social justice issues and recently detailed her fight with COVID-19 was said to have died last week — but she actually never existed.

BethAnn McLaughlin — who announced the made-up professor’s death on July 31 — admitted to The New York Times on Tuesday that she was behind the hoax.

Appointed to a tenure-track assistant professor position at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in 2005, Dr. McLaughlin applied for tenure nearly a decade later. Vandy, after initially seeming moderately supportive, spent two years evaluating her application. A portion of the delay was to conduct a disciplinary probe of Dr. McLaughlin, who was accused of anonymously libeling colleagues through Twitter, all in the aftermath of a sexual harassment charge brought by a graduate student against a professor in the department. Dr. McLaughlin had testified against the colleague on behalf of the student, but the professor was ultimately cleared of the charges by both the university and by a judge. Though the committee voted two to one to acquit Dr. McLaughlin in the disciplinary matter, she was ultimately denied tenure by the medical school faculty in November of 2017. Further details about the tenure decision are in the link above.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. McLaughlin filed a grievance against the university and began styling herself as a leading MeToo proponent in STEM education. She was active on her Twitter account, @McLNeuro, arguing for zero-tolerance policies for harassment and supporting the BelieveAllWomen movement. She also began sockpuppeting on the account of a fictional person. Picking up again from the Post’s story:

Since 2016, the anonymous account @Sciencing_Bi had posted frequently about sexual harassment and diversity in science, making connections with other academics online.

The account claimed to be an anthropology professor who had grown up in Alabama and “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” according to the Times.

It also made pointed references to being Native American and began to identify as Hopi earlier this year.

And it was active in the career of McLaughlin, a neuroscientist, even promoting a petition for her to receive tenure Vanderbilt University [sic], which was ultimately unsuccessful.

Dr. McLaughlin’s hoax account sure checked all of the right boxes, didn’t it? BIPOC? Yep, we’ve got the “I” part accounted for! LBGTQIA+? Yep, the “B” and the “Q” are in the house! Third-person pronouns? You betcha! She even added the nice touch of the professor having grown up in a deeply red state among all of the mouth-breathing redneck KKK bigots who deny that man-made global climate change is a crisis and probably drive pick-up trucks sporting gun racks and Confederate flag mudflaps. So how do we make this fake Twitter user even more sympathetic? Let’s bring current events into play and ratchet the victim quotient up to 10:

In April, @Sciencing_Bi announced its [sic] coronavirus diagnosis and then documented the symptoms including a loss of language fluency, according to Buzzfeed News.

The account blamed ASU for her condition, tweeting in June that the school “forced me to teach 200 person lectures instead of closing” in April.

She also claimed the university cut her salary by 15 percent while she was in the hospital.

Then, a seemingly distraught McLaughlin wrote in a lengthy, mournful Twitter thread on Friday that the anonymous professor had died.

“Looking at her side of the bed and crying. Just a lot of crying. I literally can do nothing,” she wrote.

Cherry. On top of the icing. On top of the delicious multi-layer cake. Naturally, a certain subset of high-strung academics ate it up immediately:

The supposed death spurred outrage from others in academia, with a professor saying: “This person was a scientist who got Covid because they’d been forced to teach.”

“@Sciencing_Bi is a Native American anthropology professor who first contracted #COVID19 April 11, likely from her college forcing her to teach well after the virus had established itself at her college,” another person posted on Facebook.

There was one small problem: ASU would presumably know if one of their professors had died, especially if from COVID-19. And, unfortunately for Dr. McLaughlin, ASU immediately blew the whistle on the hoax. Twitter has now suspended Dr. McLaughlin’s account, as well as some other sockpuppet accounts they believe she used. And one would presume, though maybe erroneously, that at this point her appeal of Vanderbilt’s tenure decision is as every bit as dead as @Sciencing_Bi. It is fitting that this story comes to a close in the insipid year of 2020.

As you might have surmised, I am not a huge fan of professional activists. I don’t pretend to know what went on with Dr. McLaughlin at Vanderbilt and whether or not she was given a fair shake there, but clearly her behavior since losing her tenure battle suggests that she is dealing with issues which ought to be addressed through professional help, not through blindly accepting her claims without examination and turning her into the public face of MeTooSTEM as so many (including, alas, my own alma mater) eagerly did. Coupled with Trader Joe’s surprising reversal last week, perhaps social justice would be better served if more people stopped acquiescing to the auto-appointed avatars of activism.

– JVW

A Misrepresentation of “Rightist” Thought

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:17 am



[guest post by Dana]

For your consideration: a little strawman from a Bloomberg opinion writer:

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard anyone on the right say that it is IQ that determines productivity??

The writer is essentially and inaccurately positing that “rightists” believe that individuals with high IQs can’t be non-productive, deadweight layabouts and that individuals with low IQs can’t be productive even if they have a solid work ethic, self-discipline, and a sense of responsibility, pride, and purpose.

And that’s just to start with…”rightists” claiming salary should be based on “productivity”??

Anyway, the tweet reminded me to give a shout-out to the No Limits Cafe, whose mission is to “EMPOWER adults with intellectual disabilities by providing jobs and job training to help them lead fulfilling lives within our community and to increase awareness of their potential.” Wut??? This is just crazy, am I right??!!!

–Dana

Was It All a Lie? A Rant Deferred

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:29 am



This morning I was reflecting on a post by Allahpundit, in which he reacted to Rand Paul’s assertion that the GOP should apologize to Obama for pretending it cared about spending during his presidency. Allahpundit replied that pandemic spending is a necessity and that apologies are not owed to Obama. But …

But you know what I will take an apology for? I’ll accept one for running gigantic deficits during a sustained pre-pandemic economic boom with a Republican president in office, Republicans in control of the Senate, and, for two years, Republicans in charge of the House. That’s the spending binge that proved that the tea party was a fraud to its core, not the exorbitant emergency relief effort that Congress is now engaged in.

. . . .

. . .It’s opportunistic Trump-hugging cronies like Paul who think they’re one election away from relevance again.

Never Trumpers, in contrast, are the righties who are most thoroughly disillusioned about what they thought the GOP stood for. Trump’s presidency isn’t an interregnum between periods of Reaganism in their view, it’s an expose that busted the myth that Republican politicians or voters ever cared much about smaller government or “constitutional conservatism” or, you know, basic ethics. Stuart Stevens, a former GOP strategist and now a member of the Lincoln Project, has a book out this week about his own disillusionment with the party titled “It Was All a Lie.” You can’t do better than that as a summary of the Never Trump verdict on the pre-Trump GOP.

It was all a lie. Hose it down with kerosene and light a match.

I have never described myself as a “Never Trumper” (I’m not big on joining groups) but I feel the disillusion, and I made notes this morning for a long rant about my disappointment with various factions. Disappointment with judges who go wobbly on the real issues and wink at abuses of the rule of law done for cronyism. Disappointment with Senators who professed to care about the deficit, and the Constitution, and reining in an out of control executive, and fostering basic morality and decency … and then gave it all up due to fear that speaking out for what they believed in might cost them an election. Disappointment at commentators who ranted at the obvious deficiencies of Trump, and then traded that all for attaboys from strangers on the Internet. Disappointment at large swaths of the voting public for voting such a cretin into office.

But there is a part of me which questions whether I should write this rant at all.

Or at least, that part of me which suggests this as a compromise: that if I do write that rant, perhaps it should be tempered with the knowledge that my views of other people are often changed when I meet them in person. There are public figures I am more reluctant to criticize because they seem nice in person, and I think they actually are, and that niceness is mixed in with the nasty bits I see in public. And you know what? I think it’s true of everyone.

And the reverse is true of me. Whatever angelic image I might try to project onto an Internet screen, the truth is that when you know me in private you find I’m a deeply flawed human being who sins.

I still might write that rant. I’ll probably wait until after my daughter has left the house, because the time I would need to invest would detract from the little time we have with her before she returns to school. It is a silver lining of the pandemic that for a time, we have had a household resembling in many ways the one we used to have before she left for college: all four members of the family together, playing games, going on walks together … just like the old days. That’s going to change soon.

When it does, I may be back at the blog a little more. And maybe I’ll have time to write that rant. But for now, it’s like one of those letters Lincoln wrote in anger and put in his drawer — only I have described a little something about the contents of the letter to you. When days have passed I will open the drawer again, and maybe I will send the letter and maybe I’ll leave it in the drawer.

Or maybe it will become something more temperate. A letter that makes the same points, but less in anger.

We’ll see.


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