- When a substitute teacher in Utah asked a class of fifth-graders what they were thankful for the week before Thanksgiving, one 11-year-old said, “I’m thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads.”
- But that seemed to have upset the teacher, who went on to lecture the class and tell them “homosexuality is wrong.”
- Three girls in the class repeatedly asked her to stop, then walked out of the room to complain to the principal.
- The teacher was fired from the school and the staffing agency that contracted her.
Thanksgiving Exercise About Gratitude Takes a Turn
A substitute teacher in Utah was fired after allegedly telling a class of fifth-graders that “homosexuality is wrong.”
In a video recently posted on social media, former Dancing with the Stars pro Louis Van Amstel talked about the incident that happened in his 11-year-old son Daniel’s classroom.
The week before Thanksgiving, the substitute asked students at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills what they were thankful for ahead of the holiday. Some said turkey and mashed potatoes, others said their pets or joked about not having to go to school over the break, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
But one boy had a more serious response. “I’m thankful that I’m finally going to be adopted by my two dads,” he told the class.
However, he was surprised when the substitute teachers’ response was, “Why on earth would you be happy about that?”
The instructor reportedly proceeded to lecture the 30 students about her views for about 10 minutes. Her rant allegedly included comments like “homosexuality is wrong” and “ two men living together is a sin.” She also reportedly looked at the boy and said: “That’s nothing to be thankful for.”
According to Van Amstel, three girls in the class asked the teacher to stop multiple times. When she continued with her comments, they walked out of the room to complain to the principal.
The boy’s fathers were called immediately after the incident and were told by school officials that the teacher continued to argue about her views as she was escorted out of the building.
“She also tried to blame out son and told him that it was his fault that she went off,” Van Amstel told The Tribune.
When question by the school, Van Amstel’s son said he didn’t want to talk about it or get the teacher in trouble. The school instead pieced together the story from other student accounts and fired the teacher.
Van Amstel explained that his son understood what the substitute was saying, but he decided not to speak up because he had gone through two failed adoptions before and was afraid of causing any trouble that would make his dads rethink their decision before their final court hearing on Dec. 19.
“He was so fearful that this could make us think that we don’t want to adopt him,” Van Amstel told the paper. “That’s definitely not going to happen. But this situation really hurt him. This person really hurt us.”
Ultimately, Van Amstel said he was pleased with how the school immediately handled the situation. “I am so proud of Daniel’s school. Not only did they let go of the teacher, they said this woman is never going to teach in this school again,” he said in his social media video
In another post, he wrote, “I’m proud of those three girls and Daniel’s school for standing up for our family against this bully.”
When she didn’t they went to the principles office to complain.— Louis van Amstel (@LouisVanAmstel) November 22, 2019
I’m proud of those three girls and Daniel’s school for standing up for our family against this bully.
Daniels’s other father, Josh Van Amstel, also told local news station KSTU that the school principal, Caroline Knadler, is “wonderful” and has been “really amazing,” He added that she escorted the substitute out of the building herself, telling her: “There’s the door, keep walking.”
Alpine School District spokesperson David Stephenson noted that Alpine has a strict non-discrimination policy. “[We’re] committed to having the best employees who care about all children in our schools, whether it be the teacher, the custodian, the secretary or a substitute teacher,” he said.
“Obviously, when situations come up like this, we quickly investigate and take appropriate action. That was done in this situation.”
However, he said he was unsure if the substitute would be allowed to work in the district moving forward and referred that question to Kelly Services, the staffing company the district uses to contract substitutes.
The staffing company then issued a statement to several media outlets on Sunday saying, “We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate conduct and take these matters very seriously. We conducted an investigation and made the decision to end the employee’s relationship with Kelly Services.”
Inmates Sue Jail for Giving Them Ivermectin to Treat COVID-19 Without Consent
Four detainees who filed the suit allege that the jail’s doctor gave them “incredibly high doses” of the anti-parasite in a “cocktail of drugs” that he said were “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
Washington County Detention Center Lawsuit
Four inmates at an Arkansas jail have filed a federal lawsuit claiming that they were unknowingly given the anti-parasite drug ivermectin without their consent by the detention center’s doctor after contracting COVID-19.
The Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and countless other medical experts have said that ivermectin — commonly used for livestock — can be dangerous and should not be used to treat the coronavirus.
According to the lawsuit, after testing positive for COVID in August, the four men at the Washington County Detention Center (WCDC) were given a “cocktail of drugs” twice a day by the facility’s doctor, Robert Karas.
The inmates claim that Dr. Karas did not tell them that he was giving them ivermectin, but instead said the drugs consisted of “‘vitamins’, ‘antibiotics,’ and/or ‘steroids.’”
The complaint also alleges that the detainees were given “incredibly high doses” of the drug, causing some to experience “vision issues, diarrhea, bloody stools, and/or stomach cramps.”
Use on Other Inmates
The four plaintiffs were far from the only people to whom Karas gave ivermectin.
According to the lawsuit, the doctor began using the drug to treat COVID starting in November of 2020. In August, the Washington County sheriff confirmed at a local finance and budget committee meeting that the doctor had been prescribing the drug to inmates, prompting the Arkansas Medical Board to launch an investigation.
In response, Karas informed a Medical Board investigator in a letter from his attorney that 254 inmates at the facility had been treated with ivermectin.
In the letter, he confirmed that whether or not detainees were given information about ivermectin was dependent on who administered it, but paramedics were not required to discuss the drug with them.
He also admitted that after the practice got media coverage, he “adopted a more robust informed consent form to assuage any concern that any detainees were being misled or coerced into taking the medications, even though they weren’t.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, which filed the suit on behalf of the inmates, also claimed in a statement that after questions were raised about the practice, the jail attempted to make detainees sign forms saying that they retroactively agreed to the treatments.
The WCDC has not issued a public response to the lawsuits, but Dr. Karas appeared to address the situation in a Facebook post where he defended his actions.
“Guess we made the news again this week; still with best record in the world at the jail with the same protocols,” he wrote. “Inmates aren’t dumb and I suspect in the future other inmates around the country will be suiing their facilities requesting same treatment we’re using at WCDC-including the Ivermectin.”
See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (NBC News)
Medical Workers Sign Letter Urging Spotify to Combat Misinformation, Citing Joe Rogan
The letter accused Spotify of “enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research.”
Doctors and Medical Professionals Sign Letter to Spotify
A group of 270 doctors, scientists, and other medical workers signed an open letter to Spotify this week urging the audio platform to implement a misinformation policy, specifically citing false claims made on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast.
Rogan has faced no shortage of backlash over the last year for promoting vaccine misinformation on his show, which airs exclusively on Spotify. Most recently, he invited Dr. Robert Malone on a Dec. 31 episode that has since been widely criticized by health experts.
Dr. Malone was banned from Twitter for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. According to the medical experts who signed the letter, he “used the JRE platform to further promote numerous baseless claims, including several falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and an unfounded theory that societal leaders have ‘hypnotized’ the public.”
“Notably, Dr. Malone is one of two recent JRE guests who has compared pandemic policies to the Holocaust,” the letter continued. “These actions are not only objectionable and offensive, but also medically and culturally dangerous.”
Joe Rogan’s History of COVID-19 Misinformation
Rogan sparked swift criticism himself in the spring of 2021 when he discouraged young people from taking the COVID-19 vaccine. He also falsely equated mRNA vaccines to “gene therapy” and incorrectly stated that vaccines cause super mutations of the virus. He took ivermectin after testing positive for the virus in September, despite the fact that the drug is not approved as a treatment for COVID.
“By allowing the propagation of false and societally harmful assertions, Spotify is enabling its hosted media to damage public trust in scientific research and sow doubt in the credibility of data-driven guidance offered by medical professionals,” the doctors and medical workers wrote.
“We are calling on Spotify to take action against the mass-misinformation events which continue to occur on its platform,” they continued. “With an estimated 11 million listeners per episode, JRE is the world’s largest podcast and has tremendous influence. Though Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, the company presently has no misinformation policy.”
Rolling Stone was the first outlet to report on the letter from the medical professionals. Dr. Katrine Wallace, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois Chicago, was among the signees. She told the magazine that Rogan is “a menace to public health.”
“These are fringe ideas not backed in science, and having it on a huge platform makes it seem there are two sides to this issue,” she said. “And there are really not.”
Spotify had not responded to the letter as of Thursday.
See what others are saying: (Rolling Stone) (Deadline) (Insider)
Data Shows Omicron May be Peaking in the U.S.
In some cities that were first hit by the surge, new cases are starting to flatten and decline.
New Cases Flattening
After weeks of recording-breaking cases driven by the highly infectious omicron variant, public health officials say that new COVID infections seem to be slowing in the parts of the country that were hit the hardest earlier on.
Following a more than twentyfold rise in December, cases in New York City have flattened out in recent days.
New infections have even begun to fall slightly in some states, like Maryland and New Jersey. In Boston, the levels of COVID in wastewater — which has been a top indicator of case trends in the past — have dropped by nearly 40% since the first of the year.
Overall, federal data has shown a steep decline in COVID-related emergency room visits in the Northeast, and the rest of the country appears to be following a similar track.
Data from other countries signals the potential for a steep decline in cases following the swift and unprecedented surge.
According to figures from South Africa, where the variant was first detected, cases rose at an incredibly shocking rate for about a month but peaked quickly in mid-December. Since then, new infections have plummeted by around 70%.
In the U.K., which has typically been a map for how U.S. cases will trend, infections are also beginning to fall after peaking around New Year’s and then flattening for about a week.
Despite these recent trends, experts say it is still too early to say if cases in the U.S. will decline as rapidly as they did in South Africa and the parts of the U.K. that were first hit.
While new infections may seem to be peaking in the cities that saw the first surges, caseloads continue to climb in most parts of the country.
Meanwhile, hospitals are overwhelmed and health resources are still strained because of the high volume of cases hitting all at once.