Rantz: Eatonville High School uses ankle monitors on student athletes to track COVID outbreaks

Aug 24, 2021, 4:20 PM | Updated: Aug 25, 2021, 11:54 am
Eatonville HS asks players to wear tracking devices during some sporting events to help track COVID exposure. (Photo: Eatonville High School Facebook page)
(Photo: Eatonville High School Facebook page)

Eatonville High School is using taxpayer-funded ankle monitors to track the proximity of student athletes during the COVID pandemic. But not all parents reportedly signed off on this move.

The Eatonville School District confirms to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that the district uses proximity monitors. Regardless of vaccination status, coaches and staff wear them during high contact and moderate indoor contact sports. The district says students are not tracked. Instead, the device’s radio-based sensors monitor the distance between others who wear one.

“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,” the district said in an emailed statement.

The statement goes on to say that: “Athletes and coaches not in contact with the player who tested positive can continue to participate in the sport.”

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School didn’t get complete parental consent, according to a report

While the school says they notified parents and sought consent to use the monitoring devices, not all parents were aware.

Speaking to the Post Millennial, one mother says she was not informed nor did she sign any consent paperwork. The website reports that mom said the school’s athletic director acknowledged a “slip up” in not first getting her consent.

A school spokesperson did not respond to questions over the veracity of the mother’s claims. They also did not respond when asked if parents signed consent forms for all other students given the monitoring device.

She also alleges the school asked her daughter to remove the device before her mother’s arrival and would only allow limited photos to be taken of the device.

The device is manufactured by the company Triax. The district paid for the devices using tax dollars from the American Rescue Plan, which mandates 20% of the funding go to the elementary and secondary school emergency relief fund.

School spins this into a positive

Eatonville High School is attempting to spin this program as a positive.

“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,” the statement reads.

They’re even placating fears by comparing it to the technology used by the NFL.

But the optics of monitoring teens as if they are out of prison on an early release? It is not ideal, to say the least. It’s made worse when not all parents offered consent.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

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Rantz: Eatonville High School uses ankle monitors on student athletes to track COVID outbreaks