Today’s blacklist story illustrates that no one is safe from the oppressive thumb of government, not even those who are clearly liberal and generally support Democrats. In this case we have the parents of two children, Eli and Kavitha Kasargod-Staub, who decided to keep the kids from their Washington, D.C., school because of their continuing concerns about COVID. As a result they were threatened with losing custody of those children by child protective services.
Kavitha Kasargod-Staub was looking forward to sending her two kids back to elementary school this fall. After a year of remote learning in Washington, D.C., her kids spent the summer attending day camp. “I’m certainly not in the group of people who avoid all Covid risk,” she said, adding that camp activities were outdoors and there was testing for children if someone was exposed to the virus.
But by August, Kasargod-Staub and her husband were watching Delta variant cases rise across the region. When her husband went to the school to review its safety protocols, he left alarmed, having learned that the HVAC system was broken and there was no plan for outdoor eating. Kasaragod-Staub, who had served as PTA president the year before, called up the principal to discuss. “The policies were vague, everyone was scrambling, so we decided to keep [our kids] home for the first week of school in the hopes that [D.C. Public Schools] would realize they made a mistake and catch up with things like testing and outdoor eating,” she told The Intercept. “It feels a little dumb now, but I genuinely thought things would change and they’d figure safety stuff out.”
Things didn’t change, and the children stayed home. Pretty soon, Kasargod-Staub was notified that her family was being referred to D.C.’s Child and Family Services Agency due to her kids’ unexcused absences. “I have a lot of privilege, I know the system, and it was still terrifying,” she said. “My mind immediately goes to, ‘Where will this lead? Are they going to take away my kids?’”
Kasargod-Staub was soon contacted by a government social worker for an intake call. “The person I spoke to said, ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen, we don’t have any sense of where this will go,’” she recalled. About a week and a half later, things escalated, and child protective services called to schedule a home visit. [emphasis mine]
Though the parents began teaching the kids using a variety of home-school programs, they had not officially removed their kids from the school, which would allow them to claim they were home-schooling them. Nor had they qualified for remote learning, because “D.C. Public Schools … requires a doctor to certify that virtual school is necessary.” Thus, the arrival of child protective services, which became increasingly threatening, step-by-step, first by asking the questions that were more and more invasive and inappropriate. Then,
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