Community divided in Eatonville over COVID-19 monitors for student-athletes

Parents and community members argued back and forth Wednesday night in Eatonville over a piece of technology meant to monitor possible COVID-19 contact between student-athletes.

People packed the bleachers of Eatonville High School Stadium for a school district board meeting.

The reason so many attended the meeting is due to the controversy over technology student-athletes are using.

Recently a COVID monitoring system was implemented. Student-athletes wear small tracking devices which shows their proximity to other athletes.

If there was a COVID case on one of the teams, the monitors could tell which players needed to quarantine. The district said this technology would allow them to more tightly determine exposures and avoid forcing entire teams to quarantine from the field/court, and class.

However, news of these devices created division among members of the community.

"It’s overreach. It makes me feel infringed upon. It’s infringing upon not necessarily me so much, but I don’t want to speak for the kids, but they’re my kids and I feel like their rights are being infringed upon," said Jason Ostendorf.

RELATED: Hospitals overwhelmed, health care workers burned out as COVID rages on

Ostendorf’s daughter plays volleyball and his son plays football. Both of his children have to wear the monitors he says.

Ostendorf says what bothers him the most about these devices is the principle behind the issue of mandatory requirements due to COVID.

"This is the next thing that they’re going to do to monitor stuff. It’s been proven over the last year that the steps keep getting more stringent, and more infringed upon on our rights," he said.

However, other parents of student-athletes see the technology as a straightforward way for their kids to have the best chance to enjoy their school year.

"These kids have been cheated out of a lot in the last year and a half and this is one small thing that we can do to ensure that these athletes get field and court time," said Jill Bruun.

Bruun is the mom of a junior on the football team.

She says parents, and athletes had the chance to ask questions about these monitors during a meeting before the devices were implemented. She says she does not understand why there is controversy at this point in the process.

"I’m disheartened because there is misinformation floating around out there and I think if people would ask questions to the proper people in charge and actually listen to hear answers, versus listening to reply, I think all of this could have been avoided," she said.

Public input went on for about an hour with people speaking both for and against the monitors. 

Q13 News spoke to some of the people in attendance who said they did not have children playing sports, and, or did not have children who went to the school.

The school board said the monitors are not being used right now and that parents, athletes, and coaches will be the ones who make the decision on whether to use them again.


Stay connected with Q13 News on all platforms:

DOWNLOAD: Q13 News and Weather Apps
WATCH: Q13 News Live
DAILY BRIEF: Sign Up For Our Newsletter
FOLLOW: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram