‘Why not?’: Eatonville parents, students express support for contact-tracing ankle monitors

Aug 27, 2021, 12:04 PM | Updated: 3:39 pm
Eatonville High School ankle monitors...
Football players at Eatonville High School. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The Eatonville School District halted a program that had student-athletes wearing contact-tracing ankle monitors this week, a decision largely driven by outrage from parents. But other parents — and many of their kids — have voiced support for the program.

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Originally, the plan was to have the ankle monitors trace potential COVID-19 cases among student-athletes and coaches, many of whom have been wearing them during high contact and indoor contact sports, regardless of vaccination status. The monitors contain similar technology to what’s used in both the NFL and the SEC, with the goal of ensuring that COVID-related quarantines are limited to as few athletes as possible.

While parents were sought out for consent, some expressed that they felt blindsided. That wasn’t the experience for parent Matthew Koch, though, whose son plays football at Eatonville High School. He cited multiple points of contact from the district.

“They reached out to us via a phone call,” Koch told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “I had a permission slip sent home with my son, and they had a team meeting to talk about it too. There were three different ways of communication that they talked to all of us about.”

Both Koch and his son support using the ankle monitors, particularly as a way to ensure that the football season can still move forward while COVID cases continue to rise across the state.

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“If it helps your kids play football, then why not?” he posited. “It’s not monitoring where they are on the field, it’s not monitoring who they’re talking or where they go. It’s, ‘hey, you’ve been in contact with number 68 for two minutes,’ and that’s it.”

“This is a great tool to actually have to be able to continue our season,” he added.

Moving forward, Koch says it’s possible the program could resurface, after the district gets a better sense of where parents and students stand on its implementation.

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‘Why not?’: Eatonville parents, students express support for contact-tracing ankle monitors