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Tags: Coronavirus | Education | Law Enforcement | Vaccines | Cold/Flu | wyoming | mask mandate

Wyoming Teen Arrested After Defying School Mask Mandate

a covid face mask is between a judge's gavel and the wooden block in an illustration

By    |   Monday, 11 October 2021 05:23 PM

A 16-year-old Wyoming high school junior was arrested last week after she failed to wear a mask, forcing the school into lockdown for over an hour.

Grace Smith returned to Laramie High School on Thursday after serving two consecutive two-day suspensions for not complying with the school district's mask mandate, Wyomingnews.com reported.

The rule, brought on by an urge in COVID-19 cases, was put in place last month and is being reviewed ahead of its Oct. 15 end.

Smith was suspended from school for six days — having been issued three separate two-day suspensions, she said in an interview with Wyoming state GOP Sen. Anthony Bouchard about her arrest. She also allegedly received $1,000 in trespassing fines for refusing to leave school grounds.

"It makes me angry," Smith said in the interview. "It makes me feel unwanted by the school system. It makes me stressed out that I have to fight this battle as a 16-year-old. Right now, I should be playing sports and having fun. And instead, I'm fighting for the rights that were supposed to be won hundreds of years ago."

Bouchard — who is running against Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., in the GOP primary in 2022 — shared his interview with Smith and her father on Twitter as well, applauding her for "standing against COVID tyranny."

"You're what really everybody has to do, and I believe that," Bouchard told Smith. "I've seen from the beginning of this, everything has been about following orders, it's all about compliance, but I don't really see a real direction we're going in other than making people fit into a mold."

The teen recorded video of herself getting handcuffed, which her father, Andy Smith, shared on social media. The video shows the interactions between Smith and police officers were polite.

"When asked if they're arresting her for [not wearing] her mask, they'll say, 'No, we're arresting her for her violation of failure to comply in accordance with their trespassing ordinance,'" Andy Smith told Bouchard.

Grace Smith described herself as a "straight-A student" who has "never broken the law."

"I would never choose to do anything wrong, and I never saw myself sitting in the back of a cop car, handcuffed," Smith said.

Smith's arrest also led to a "brief lockdown" to "prevent further interruptions to academic learning," the school said in a statement, Wyomingnews.com reported.

Smith said people have "cussed her out" and some of her best friends won't talk to her, Wyomingnews.com reported.

The Wyoming Department of Health reported that, as of last Monday, Albany County, where the school is located, is in a zone in which COVID transmission levels are and the vaccination rate is 49%, Wyomingnews.com reported.

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A 16-year-old Wyoming high school junior was arrested last week after she failed to wear a mask, forcing the school into lockdown for over an hour.
wyoming, mask mandate, arrest, school, covid-19, pandemic, vaccinations
Monday, 11 October 2021 05:23 PM
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