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Mask Mandates, Critical Race Theory Heat Up School-Board Elections

Colorado district reflects national surge in number of candidates; police step in as board members are called sociopaths, liars, tyrants

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Mask Mandates, Critical Race Theory Heat Up School-Board Elections

For the better part of four hours Tuesday night, residents of this Denver suburb stood at a lectern 20 feet from the seven members of the county school board, pointed their fingers and called them tyrants, sociopaths, liars and incompetents.

One armed sheriff’s deputy sat in a chair a few feet from the podium. Two more hovered near the back of the room, and several other armed security officers stood in the hallway.

The last school-board meeting before Election Day capped what has become one of the most vitriol-filled political contests in Douglas County in years, and is one of hundreds of school-board elections across the country that have turned into hard-fought political battles. Many of the elections set for Tuesday have become proxies for the larger culture war over masking mandates and the teaching of tenets of critical race theory.

In Loudoun County, Va., a school-board member resigned following threats of violence to her and her family. Florida districts are considering shortening public-comment periods at meetings, and in Kentucky a school board has asked parents to communicate through emails after board meetings became rowdy. Little of the contention is tied to the local issues such as building maintenance and teacher pay that usually animate school-board elections.

Across the 23 states that allow recalls for school-board members, 84 campaigns are targeting 215 board members, about four times greater than the 15-year average, according to Ballotpedia, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization based in Wisconsin.

The number of candidates running per school-board seat increased by 17% from 2018 to 2021 across the 463 school districts monitored by Ballotpedia.

Attorney General Merrick Garland ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to work with federal prosecutors and local officials to thwart what he called “a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence” against teachers and school staff over politically charged issues, according to a memo Mr. Garland sent this month. Republicans have criticized the directive as an effort to silence parents who speak out on topics such as mask mandates and how race is addressed in schools.

In Colorado, 530 candidates are running for seats across 178 school districts, said Pam Benigno, Education Policy Center director for the Independence Institute in Denver, a libertarian-leaning think tank. In 2017, there were just over 200 candidates.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” Ms. Benigno said.

Douglas County, a stretch of small cities and towns south of Denver, is among the fastest-growing in the nation. The affluent, mostly white population has traditionally voted Republican. Newcomers are shifting the political balance. Republicans still outnumber Democrats by about two to one, but unaffiliated voters now make up the largest segment of the county. The district has 65,000 students. The student body is 82% white, 9% Latino, 5% Asian, 1% Black, and 2% two or more races, according to National Center of Educational Statistics.

The race for four seats on the seven-member board has boiled down to two slates: One favors masking mandates and training about social equity; the other opposes masking mandates as well as social-equity lessons which incorporate the underlying principles of critical race theory.

Critical race theory, an academic concept first developed by legal scholars in the early 1970s, argues the legacy of white supremacy remains embedded in modern-day society through laws and institutions that shaped American society.

In March, in response to public calls for greater awareness of racism and sexism in the district, the board passed an equity policy which calls for tolerance, inclusion and a focus on social justice in schools.

Kevin DiPasquale, president of the Douglas County Federation, which represents teachers and other staff, said the school board’s focus on equity has helped to give teachers freedom to “teach fact-based history so they can prepare their students for the world ahead of them.”

Many parents spoke out to object at board meetings to condemn what they said was an overemphasis on race.

Mike Peterson worked from home last year during the pandemic as his daughter took her high-school classes remotely from home. Listening in, he said he thought the classes were light on rigor and filled with too much information that he considered liberal political opinion.https://tpc.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

He started looking online to see what he could find out about the district, which led him to a video of a recent teacher training session in which he said diversity consultants explained that the U.S. was built by and for white, Christian, able-bodied, heterosexual men and that system was inherently racist.

Read Full Story on Wall Street Journal

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Greece imposes $114 monthly fine on unvaccinated people over 60

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Greece imposes 4 monthly fine on unvaccinated people over 60

Residents in Greece over 60 years old will have to undergo mandatory vaccinations against coronavirus or face monthly 100-euro ($114) fines beginning next year, the prime minister announced Tuesday, declaring the country’s first general inoculation mandate.

The Greek government decided upon the measure in response to a surge in new daily infections and the emergence of the omicron variant. It will take effect on Jan. 16 and the fines will be added to tax bills, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in a televised statement.

Greece’s overall COVID-19 death toll exceeded 18,000 this week with confirmed new infections at high levels. Roughly a quarter of the country’s adult population remains unvaccinated.

Vaccination mandates were introduced over the summer for health care workers and fire service rescuers in Greece, with those failing to comply being suspended from their jobs indefinitely without pay.

The government has ruled out imposing new lockdowns but says it is targeting the elderly with tougher restrictions to protect the public health service as ICU occupancy is near capacity nationwide.

“The new omicron variant is a concern for us and means we must be vigilant,” Mitsotakis said.

“Unfortunately, of the 580,000 unvaccinated of our fellow citizens over the age of 60, only 60,000 set up appointments to get vaccinated in November,” he said. “But it is mainly people over 60 who require hospital treatment and sadly lose their life. These deaths are unnecessary.”

The opposition left-wing Syriza party accused the center-right government of shifting the responsibility of battling the virus onto ordinary Greeks and “targeting people over 60 … with punitive and financially debilitating measures that haven’t been implemented anywhere else in the world.”

Read more on Yahoo News

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Doctor on OMICRON: “Looking at the the mildness of the symptoms, there is no reason for panicking, as we don’t see severely ill patients”

“The hype that’s been created out there in the media & worldwide doesn’t correlate with the clinical picture”

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Fauci says ‘we’re going to have to start living with COVID’

“I don’t think we’re going to eradicate it.”

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Fauci says ‘we’re going to have to start living with COVID’

Chief White House medical adviser Anthony Fauci said in an interview that aired Sunday that he believes people will have to begin “living with COVID,” expressing doubt that the virus will be eradicated.

Speaking to host Margaret Brennan on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” Fauci touched on previous remarks in which he said he would like to see daily infections fall below 10,000 in order for the U.S. to be able to “live with COVID.” Brennan noted that current COVID-19 infection rates are now approaching 80,000 per day.

Fauci said this current infection level is “unacceptable.”

“I mean, we’ve heard people say, understandably, they’re trying to look for a metric to give to the public that we’re going to have to start living with COVID. I believe that’s the case because I don’t think we’re going to eradicate it. We’ve only eradicated one infection of mankind, and that’s smallpox. I don’t think we’re even going to eliminate it,” the infectious diseases expert said.

Fauci said illnesses such as malaria, polio and measles have become nearly nonexistent through “a very, very, very intensive vaccine campaign.”

Brennan also asked Fauci if the U.S. was currently experiencing a fifth wave of COVID-19 cases.

“Well, we certainly have the potential to go into a fifth wave. And the fifth wave, or the magnitude of any increase, if you want to call it that it, will turn into a wave, will really be dependent upon what we do in the next few weeks to a couple of months,” said Fauci.

He added that the millions of eligible U.S. residents who have not gotten vaccinated, compounded with those who are beginning to experience waning immunity from their initial doses, have resulted in a diminished level of community immunity.

Source: The Hill

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