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(Video: Fox News)
A school district in Long Island, New York has announced controversial plans to segregate parents by vaccination status during upcoming school concerts.
The Rockville Center School District says it will host a “non-socially distanced” section for parents with proof of vaccination, and a separate “social distanced” area for those who have not gotten the shot.
Acting Superintendent Robert Bartels told the New York Post that the reason for the segregation is to be able to effectively contact trace parents if there is an outbreak of Covid-19. Bartels also cited concerns he says he received from some parents about sitting in close quarters with those who are not vaccinated.
This has prompted controversy, with some parents telling the Post, “This is segregation, pure and simple. You are putting a spotlight on one group of people. That’s not what this community is about.”
One individual opposed to the segregation policy is Nassau County Executive-Elect Bruce Blakeman, a Republican who claimed office during the election “red wave” experienced earlier this month. Blakeman went on Fox News to talk about his take on the policy.
“I don’t question the intentions of the school district, but I think that when you are segregating people, you have to be careful to present a compelling argument because there are important constitutional freedoms that we have in America. The right to assemble the right to association, freedom of choice, right to privacy, and when you segregate people, you have to make that compelling argument, and I have not seen that yet,” Blakeman told “Fox & Friends” host Ainsley Earhardt.
“It’s illogical to me that there would be any danger to people who were unvaccinated because they’ve made the choice or that people who were vaccinated because they, in fact, were vaccinated. I understand contact tracing, but I don’t think contact tracing is a compelling argument to abridge important constitutional rights,” Blakeman continued.
When asked “is this dividing the community?” Blakeman answered in the affirmative, noting the effect that segregating and highlighting a certain group in public often has.
“Apparently it is because, let’s face it, if you take people and say okay, in this corner we’re going to put people who were vaccinated, and in this corner we’re going to put people who were unvaccinated, whether it be students or parents, you are saying that certain people are different and that they are being treated differently and I don’t think that that’s a good idea unless there is a compelling case,” he replied.
Blakeman also touched on the “burnout” factor that many people are feeling as a result of seemingly perpetual Covid-19 restrictions and fears, with no end in sight.
“Certainly we have Covid-19 concerns, and they’re important concerns, but I do think we’re out of the crisis situation that we had 9 months ago, and you have to make a compelling argument, in my view, to treat people differently,” he said.
Defending himself, Bartels responded to the controversy by telling the Post that this was the best choice available, and he didn’t really care how other districts are doing things.
“I haven’t been in contact with everyone else, but there are some districts that are choosing not to worry about it and just letting people come in and sit where they want. But by doing that they are ignoring people with valid health concerns who would not be comfortable coming to that particular concert,” he said.
When Bartels tried to remind people that unvaccinated New York City parents are restricted from entering most indoor events, one parent simply replied “We don’t live in New York City for a reason.”
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