Eatonville High School, which required student athletes in volleyball to wear ankle monitors in order to track for Covid, has also required this kind of monitoring and tracking for members of the football team.
Jason Ostendorf, a father of a football player at the school, told The Post Millennial that a meeting was held during which students and their families were informed that athletes could wear the monitors or forego participation. There was no opt-out option given at that time, he said. The ankle monitors were mandatory.
"I am in a tough spot," Ostendorf told The Post Millennial. "My son has played for 7 years. I don't want the tracker on him but I don't want to tell him he can't play."
The program of monitoring student athletes employs the TraceTag device used by the school. It was made by a company called Triax. It was allegedly designed for contact tracing in the event of a positive COVID test of a student.
Parents originally claimed that unvaccinated students were forced to wear the monitors but it was later clarified that both unvaccinated and vaccinated students were required to wear them.
Nicci Hadman, the mother of a volleyball player, who spoke in an interview on The Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, specified that her understanding was that unvaccinated students would be segregated and have to quarantine for up to 14 days while vaccinated students would not have to quarantine if there was a positive COVID test among the cohort.
The father of the football player supported this assertion, and also added that the perception among the parents was that if children in the school, not just on the sports teams, exhibited any symptoms, they would be barred from attending school for up to 14 days if they were not vaccinated.
The school district's website reads that "Any student with symptoms suspicious for Covid-19 including, but not limited to fever, cough, runny nose/congestion, headache, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, loss of taste/smell who is not tested for Covid-19 must remain out of school for 10 days and 24 hours after fever resolves (without the use of fever reducing medications). Any student with the above symptoms who tests positive for Covid -19 must also remain out of school for 10 days after the start of their symptoms and 24 hours after fever resolves (without the use of fever reducing medications)."
A letter from the school to "Eatonville families" stated that "This is the same technology used in professional athletics. 'NFL is Using Technology to Modernize Contact Tracing, Prevent Spread of COVID-19.' In addition to the NFL’s practice, the Southeast Conference (SEC) followed their lead using devices for proximity monitoring for their college-level football players.
"This system prevents taking students out of school and athletics unnecessarily. It allows us to keep more students engaged and involved in class as well as athletic activities. This is a top priority for staff and families here in Eatonville. This school year we can expect numerous changes and for situations to be dynamic."
Hoffman spoke to Hadman about this comparison to the NFL during the radio interview, and made the point that children are minors, not paid athletes, and that parents, like Hadman, didn't give consent to this. The father of the football player said that parents like himself felt they had no choice but to consent to the monitoring to permit participation or risk future athletic scholarships and their children's college careers.
According to Triax, the monitors were created for the purpose of "maintaining social distancing guidelines" and to provide "real-time insight into whether these guidelines are being observed" for construction and other manufacturing businesses, but makes no mention of school use on the website.
The devices provide "…a visual and audible alarm, so individuals know when to adjust their current distance to a proper social distance." Additionally, the monitors provide "Passive collection of worker interactions for contact tracing should an individual test positive." According to Triax, the device "…is affixed to any hardhat or worn on the body for proximity detection and contact tracing."
The school district, per Eatonville School District Superintendent Gary Neal stated that: "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."
An additional school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday night, and the program reportedly is on hold.