The Potluck

Richfield parent threatens school staff in anti-mask rant

By: - September 9, 2021 11:01 am

Police removed a parent from a Richfield elementary school Wednesday morning after the parent entered the school without permission and threatened staff during an anti-mask tirade.

The parent wasn’t complying with the district’s mask policy, which requires all people over age 2 to wear masks in district buildings, a Richfield Public Schools spokesperson said. Despite the disruption, students weren’t in danger and the rest of the first day of school was “positive, seamless and joyful,” the spokesperson said.

During student drop-off in the morning, the parent entered STEM Elementary School and refused to either put on a mask or leave the building, according to the spokesperson. The parent became agitated, threatening staff and calling them names as they tried to get staff to take their masks off.

Staff called the police, and the parent was “removed from the building in handcuffs,” the spokesperson said. Parents were alerted later that morning, and there have been no other incidents.

State Rep. Mike Howard, DFL-Richfield, tweeted about the incident Wednesday, saying, “This madness has to stop, as does the anti-science/anti-govt rhetoric fueling the rage.”

Parents opposed to masking caused disruptions at school board meetings across the state this summer, booing and jeering at school board members who voted in favor of mask mandates in cities from Stillwater to Bemidji. Despite the high-profile confrontations, the majority of parents nationwide support mask requirements in K-12 schools, according to an Associated Press poll.

Children are still less likely to get sick or become seriously ill with COVID-19 than older people, but the highly contagious Delta variant is causing a surge in infections and hospitalizations among kids, especially those under age 12 who can’t yet get vaccinated.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends all people wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor areas in every Minnesota county except one, Lake County, due to high community transmission of COVID-19.

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Rilyn Eischens
Rilyn Eischens

Rilyn Eischens is a former data reporter for the Minnesota Reformer. Rilyn was born and raised in Minnesota and has worked in newsrooms in the Twin Cities, Iowa, Texas and most recently Virginia, where she covered education for The Staunton News Leader. She's an alumna of the Dow Jones News Fund data journalism program and the Minnesota Daily. When Rilyn isn't in the newsroom, she likes to read, add to her plant collection and try new recipes.