Upon receiving information Monday afternoon that someone had threatened someone else with a weapon in the school parking lot, Aberdeen Central High School locked down its campus. The school detained hundreds of students in their classrooms and prohibited them from leaving school at the normal time. The liberty of every student present on campus, as well as the liberty of parents, employers, and others expecting students to be free to leave the building at the assigned time, was significantly restricted Monday… even though there was no weapon and no “credible” threat to students and staff. Aberdeen police did arrest one individual for false reporting and disrupting school.
Meanwhile, an actual, well-evidenced threat to students and staff has been raging since school started in August. Aberdeen Central has reported coronavirus cases on its campus almost weekly. Yet the school district has not required students or others on campus to wear masks to prevent this real threat from spreading and doing harm to others. The school district has provided substandard online lessons outsourced to an out-of-state vendor for students who choose to take action to reduce their risk by studying at home, but it has not provided the local support it promised to students taking that option in response to this real public health threat. And the school district has continued to host spectator events indoors with no required masks or temperature checks or other precautions to ensure that no one is bringing and spreading a real threat to student and staff health into the building.
When the school received its unsubstantiated report of a security risk in the parking lot, the principal sent out a mass phone call immediately alerting parents to the imagined threat. The principal provides no such immediate or detailed alert to parents when (if) the school receives information about coronavirus cases on campus; instead, the school sends out the same vague, canned phone call maybe once a week saying an unspecified number of individuals have tested positive and leaving it to parents and students to decide what action if any they will take to keep themselves safe from this real public health hazard.
Coronavirus has killed 644 people in South Dakota this year. That’s 643 more people than have been killed in school shootings in South Dakota ever. Yet while we continually restrict our children’s liberty with the over-reactive and spiritually corrosive security theater of lockdown drills and cops on campus, our Aberdeen school district takes far more tempered action to prevent the spread of the coronavirus that is killing our kids’ grandparents and putting the kids and the their teachers at daily risk.