LI school district to separate parents by vax status for student shows



A Long Island school district has sparked an uproar after announcing plans to separate parents by vaccination status during upcoming student concerts, The Post has learned.

The Rockville Centre School District will have a non-socially distanced section for parents who show vaccination proof upon arrival.

They will also reserve a separate, socially-distanced area for those who are unvaccinated and others who have gotten the shot but still want some additional elbow room.

Acting District Superintendent Robert Bartels told The Post that the measure will enable administrators to effectively contact trace parents in the event of an outbreak.

Bartels said some parents were uneasy with sitting at close quarters with those who are not vaccinated and that the district’s arrangement accommodates all parties.

“We wanted to get as many people in as possible without feeling uncomfortable,” he said, adding that the concerts are across all grade levels.

Angel Human, an employee at Cafe Baci in Westbury, New York, gets his Covid-19 vaccination.
Parents fear the vaccination status rule could cause tension in the Long Island community.
Newsday via Getty Images

But a sizable group of parents — including many who are vaccinated — have voiced their opposition at school board meetings and online.

“This is segregation, pure and simple,” said one mother who said she and her family were vaccinated. “You are putting a spotlight on one group of people. That’s not what this community is about.”

Acting District Superintendent Robert Bartels of Rockville Centre Schools in Long Island
Acting District Superintendent Robert Bartels says the move will help accommodate both groups — and effectively contract trace if there’s an outbreak.

Objectors have argued that the seating arrangement does not adhere to any specific state restrictions or guidelines and that surrounding districts haven’t imposed similar plans for parent events.

“Where does this end?” asked one parent. “If they are allowed to just do whatever they want regardless of state rules, what’s next? That is what’s troubling about this.”

Another parent said the separate sections would foment division in the Nassau County suburb.

“We believe that this is unjust, barbaric and would deeply wound our community,” said another parent.

Bartels said the seating arrangement was his best option and that he wasn’t overly concerned with how other districts were approaching school event attendance.

“I haven’t been in contact with everyone else,” he said. “But there are some districts that are choosing not to worry about it and just letting people come in and sit where they want. But by doing that they are ignoring people with valid health concerns who would not be comfortable coming to that particular concert.”

Bartels has also reminded parents that unvaccinated New York City parents are not allowed at most indoor events.

School nurse administering a vaccine to a masked student.
Parents are still required to wear masks at indoor events in the Rockville Centre School District, regardless of vaccination status.
Getty Images

“We don’t live in New York City for a reason,” said one parent. “This isn’t New York City.”

All attendees will wear masks regardless of vaccination status, Bartels said.

According to state figures, 96 percent of Nassau County residents aged 18 and older have had at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.


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